Paris, France (ESA) Jan 17, 2011
ATV-2 is almost ready for launch on 15 February from Europe's Spaceport. It will be the heaviest load ever lofted into space by the Ariane 5 rocket, making the 200th flight of the European launcher even more spectacular.
ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle space ferry, named after the German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, is now fully fuelled, its oxygen tanks are filled and most of the cargo from ESA and NASA is placed inside.
Only last-minute cargo of up to 400 kg will be added two weeks before launch using a special access device.
While the first ATV in 2008 performed a series of demonstrations on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), Johannes Kepler will head directly to its destination.
The planned journey includes some extra days to allow for possible delays, but the docking has to take place on 26 February to meet the busy ISS schedule.
Docking automatically, but controlled from Toulouse
During the docking, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli will stand by ready to interrupt the approach if necessary. ATV carries several separate systems to detect potential problems and to ensure the safety of the Station and its crew at all times.
The links between the ATV-CC, ATV, Ariane and control centre at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, will be tested twice in realistic launch simulations, on 4 and 11 February.
The Ariane 5 ES vehicle is already assembled in Kourou and the ATV will be attached on top on 20 January, beginning 20 days of combined operations with the Ariane and ATV teams.
The launch window will open for four days from 15 February.
Express delivery service
At the Station, ATV will provide storage and help in adjusting the orbit, performing regular orbit reboosts and avoiding space debris.
After staying for three and a half months at the Station, it will undock before being commanded by ATV-CC to burn up in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.
Follow the mission of Johannes Kepler on the ATV blog
ESA will follow the launch preparations, flight and docking of the ATV on a special blog.
The blog will cover the mission's milestones and include technical and operational details, updated with text and video entries from ESA establishments, the launch site in Kourou and the ATV control centre in Toulouse.
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International Space Station and Mars Conference at George Washington University
Beverly MA (SPX) Jan 13, 2011
Explore Mars, Inc. is pleased to announce a two-day conference called "The International Space Station and Mars" (ISSMars-DC). This conference will take place on April 6-7, 2011 at the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. ISSMars-DC will focus extensively on how the International Space Station can be used to advance exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit - ... read more
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