by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Jul 08, 2014
Europe's fifth, and final, Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now integrated with its Ariane 5 launcher, enabling final cargo loading in preparation for Arianespace's July 24 mission from French Guiana.
The Automated Transfer Vehicle is named after Belgian physicist and father of the Big Bang theory, Georges Lemaitre, and it will deliver fuel, air and more than 2,600 kg. of dry cargo to the International Space Station. In addition, this ATV resupply spacecraft will perform maneuvers to maintain the facility's nominal orbit, as well as test new rendezvous sensors in space.
Using a hoist system set-up in Ariane 5's Final Assembly Building at the Spaceport, the remaining cargo is being loaded through the ATV's top hatch, carefully securing these bags supplied by the European, U.S. and Japanese space agencies.
The ATV program - managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) - is part of Europe's contribution to the International Space Station's operation. Prime contractor is Airbus Defence and Space, which also is the industrial architect for Ariane 5.
All ATVs have been orbited by Ariane 5 launchers, beginning with "Jules Verne" in March 2008, which was followed by "Johannes Kepler" in February 2011, "Edoardo Amaldi" in March 2012, and last June's flight with "Albert Einstein."
Arianespace's latest ATV mission in support of International Space Station operations is designated Flight VA219 in the company's numbering system, and will utilize an Ariane 5 ES version of the heavy-lift workhorse.
O3b's satellite cluster receives its orbital "kick" for the upcoming Arianespace Soyuz launch
During operations in the Spaceport's S3B payload preparation facility, the four satellites - which previously were integrated on their tube-shaped dispenser system - have been mated atop Soyuz' Fregat upper stage. The highly flexible Fregat stage will perform multiple burns during Arianespace's July 10 flight, deploying the spacecraft into orbit.
This week's mating operation with Fregat will be followed by Soyuz' subsequent rollout to the ELS launch complex near the French Guiana town of Sinnamary, allowing the satellite payload to be installed on the medium-lift workhorse launcher.
The July 10 mission, designated Flight VS08 in Arianespace's launcher family numbering system, will be the eighth with Soyuz since the vehicle's 2011 introduction at the Spaceport - joining the company's heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega.
Flight VS08 will be the second Arianespace mission at the service of O3b Networks, following the orbiting of its initial four satellites with Soyuz in June 2013.
O3b Networks' Ka-band relay platforms will create a satellite constellation for telecommunications and Internet services that combine high speed and affordable costs for billions of people across the world who do not yet have adequate internet access. Thales Alenia Space produced the spacecraft, which have a liftoff mass of approximately 700 kg. each.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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