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European Space Freighter For ISS Hit By Fresh Delay

ESA said the new delay was caused by launcher availability and pre-launch inspection procedures as well as "heavy traffic" at the ISS towards the end of the year.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jun 15, 2007
The European Space Agency on Thursday announced the latest in a long series of delays in the maiden launch of a robot craft designed to resupply the International Space Station. The "Jules Verne", which ESA had previously hoped to launch in the last quarter of 2007, will now lift off "not earlier than mid-January 2008," the agency said in a press release.

The unmanned craft, billed as the most sophisticated automated spacecraft ever made, was originally pencilled for launch in late 2004.

But this schedule was scrubbed by the loss of the US space shuttle Columbia in February 2003, which had a knock-on effect on the ISS's construction programme.

The Jules Verne, named after the 19th-century French writer, is the first so-called Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

Launched by an Ariane-5 rocket from ESA's base in Kourou, French Guiana, it is designed to dock with the ISS, delivering 7.5 tonnes of food, water, pressurised air, fuel and experiments.

Its engines can also reboost the station's orbit to overcome the effects of lingering atmospheric drag.

After six months, the vehicle undocks, bearing station waste, and then burns up in a controlled re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

In its press release, ESA said the new delay was caused by launcher availability and pre-launch inspection procedures as well as "heavy traffic" at the ISS towards the end of the year.

The ISS construction programme has had to be heavily modified after the loss of Columbia and the cautious resumption of flights by the remaining three US shuttles.

earlier related report
Assessment of ESA's ATV mission readiness results in a new launch window
Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is ready for launch and will be shipped to Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, in mid-July for a launch campaign that will last several months.

The on-going qualification review, launcher availability (a specially built Ariane 5 version) and 'heavy traffic' at the International Space Station towards the end of the year, lead to a revised launch window that sees now a possibility for the Jules Verne ATV to lift-off not earlier than mid-January 2008.

Once in Kourou, the ATV will have to undergo integration and further tests - as is customary for all spacecraft before launch. Only upon completion of such tests and taking into account the schedule of the Ariane launches will it be possible to set a precise launch date.

Jules Verne is the first of a series of ATVs which will bring supplies including food, water, and fuel as well as experiment equipment to the crew on board the International Space Station. A crucial element of the ISS programme, the ATV will also re-boost the Station's orbit to overcome the effects of residual atmospheric drag.

After six months the ATV will undock and be used to dispose of Station waste during a guided and controlled destructive re-entry into the atmosphere high over the Pacific Ocean.

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Boston Harbor Angels Takes Stake In XCOR
Mojave CA (SPX) Jun 08, 2007
XCOR announced it has received investment from the Boston Harbor Angels. The funds will support development of XCOR's new suborbital vehicle. "This is our first angel group investment," said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "We hope other angel groups and possibly institutional investors will follow the Boston Harbor Angels example."

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