Jules Verne ATV to the International Space Station - Mission Accomplished !
On Sunday, March 9, in its first mission of the year, Arianespace
successfully launched the European Space Agency's first ATV (Automated Transfer
Vehicle), dubbed Jules Verne, towards its rendezvous with the International
Source : Arianespace Press Release, Kourou, March 9, 2008.
The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5 confirms that Arianespace's launch
Service & Solutions continue to set the standard and guarantee access to space
for all stakeholders, whether national or international space agencies, private
or government operators.
With 23 successful launches in a row, Ariane 5 continues to prove its
reliability and availability. It also set a new payload record, boosting nearly
20 metric tons into low Earth orbit on this mission.
The new Ariane 5 ES version was used for the Jules Verne ATV mission. Its lower
composite, including the cryogenic main stage and solid boosters, is identical
to that on the Ariane 5 ECA launcher, while the upper composite features a
storable-propellant upper stage that can be re-ignited in flight. Arianespace
will use this version of the launcher for subsequent ATV missions and, if
applicable, satellites in the Galileo constellation.
This launch marks Arianespace's first mission to the International Space Station
(ISS). The Guiana Space Center thus joins the very select club of launch sites
serving the ISS, along with Baikonur and the Kennedy Space Center (Cape
Coming just a few weeks after the docking of the Columbus space laboratory to
the Space Station, the successful launch of the Jules Verne ATV shows once again
that Europe plays a major role in manned space missions.
The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ES launcher from Europe's Spaceport
in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Sunday, March 9, at 1:03 am local
time in Kourou (04:03 UT, 5:03 am in Paris and 7:03 am in Moscow).
Provisional parameters at injection of the storable-propellant upper stage (EPS)
Perigee: 259.2 km for a target of 259.5 km (±10)
Apogee: 263.6 km for a target of 264.3 km (±15)
Inclination: 51.61 degrees for a target of 51.63 degrees (±0.09°)
The ATV is designed to bring supplies to the ISS (water, air, food, propellants
for the Russian section, spare parts, experimental hardware, etc.), and to
reboost the ISS into its nominal orbit. The ISS now weighs more than 240 metric
tons, including the recently attached European laboratory, Columbus. After being
docked to the ISS for up to six months, the ATV will be loaded with waste by the
astronauts and deorbited.
After separating from the launch vehicle, the ATV will be autonomous, using its
own systems for energy (batteries and four large solar panels) and guidance
(GPS, star tracker), in liaison with the control center in Toulouse. During
final approach, an optical system will guide the ATV to its rendezvous with the
Space Station, where it will automatically dock several days after launch. The
ATV will remain docked to the ISS for nearly six months, before separating and
making a guided reentry and disintegrating in the atmosphere.
The ATV was built by EADS Astrium at the head of a consortium of European
manufacturers. A large cylinder measuring about 10 meters long by 4.5 meters in
diameter, the ATV comprises two main parts: a service module with the avionics
and propulsion systems, and a pressurized cargo carrier.