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Ariane 5's Mission With The Automated Transfer Vehicle Is Postponed

ESA's second Automated Transfer Vehicle, will be launched on Tuesday, 15 February 2011, at 22:13:27 GMT (23:13:27 CET) by an Ariane 5 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou to deliver critical supplies and reboost the International Space Station. According to current mission planning, Johannes Kepler will dock with the Space Station on Wednesday, 23 February, and stay in orbit for almost four months. The launch can be followed live on ESA TV
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Feb 16, 2011
Tonight's Ariane 5 mission with Europe's second Automated Transfer Vehicle has been postponed following a hold during the final countdown at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

A "red" indication for the launch site stopped the countdown at just prior to 4 minutes before the scheduled liftoff.

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said that according to initial indications, there was erroneous data concerning the launcher's fueling, which resulted in the hold.

As this mission has a precise launch slot, the hold forced tonight's postponement.

Another attempt will likely be made on Wednesday, Arianespace Chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall said from the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana via an Internet videocast immediately after the aborted lift-off.

"There's a 90-percent chance we'll try again tomorrow," Le Gall later told journalists.

The mission was halted when a red warning light indicated a problem the fueling system.

Designed to supply mankind's nearly 400-tonne outpost in orbit, the Johannes Kepler - the largest payload ever taken aloft by the ESA - will bring water, air, food, spare parts and experimental hardware to the ISS.

If successful, the launch will be the 200th in the European space programme.

earlier related report
An Ariane 5 with the heaviest payload ever for this workhorse Arianespace launcher is poised for liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana on an historic mission to service the International Space Station.

The launcher was rolled out February 14 from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building, where it was fitted with the second Automated Transfer Vehicle for Europe.

Installed atop one of two mobile tables used for Ariane 5, it is now in place at the ELA-3 launch zone - enabling final preparations to begin for a departure scheduled tomorrow (February 15) at precisely 7:13:27 p.m., local time in French Guiana.

This Automated Transfer Vehicle is named after German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, and will be the first operational ATV.

It follows the qualification flight of ATV Jules Verne, the initial cargo resupply spacecraft for Europe that was launched by an Ariane 5 in March 2008.

Total payload lift performance for tomorrow's mission is 20,050 kg. - which includes 19,700 kg. for the ATV, plus associated integration hardware.

The ATV Johannes Kepler has been loaded with more than 7 metric tons of its own cargo and supplies - including propellant weighing 4,534 kg. to be used in the International Space Station's attitude control system, and for the facility's altitude re-boost operations.

Also included is nearly 1,600 kg. of dry cargo and 100 kg. of oxygen for use aboard the station.

The Ariane 5's flight with ATV Johannes Kepler is to last just over one hour, and will include two burns of the launcher's EPS storable propellant upper stage - separated by a 45-minute ballistic coast phase.

Once the cargo resupply spacecraft is released into a 260-kilometer orbit, the Ariane 5's EPS upper stage will be reignited a third time to de-orbit the launcher's upper component, sending it towards a splashdown in a deserted area of the South Pacific.

In addition to being the heaviest payload mission for Ariane 5, this launch will mark the milestone 200th flight of Europe's launcher family since the first liftoff of an Ariane 1 version in December 1979.

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