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Jules Verne ATV Declared Ready For Launch

Aerial view of Europe's Spaceport, Kourou
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Mar 06, 2008
The successful Launch Readiness Review (LRR) for the inaugural launch of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle-V162 was today held at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

In the presence of John Ellwood, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Project Manager, with the participation of around 60 people from ESA, Arianespace, CNES, Astrium, RSC-Energia and NASA, the European space supply vessel for the International Space Station, was declared ready for launch on 9 March at 05:03 CET (04:03 UTC).

"We are very pleased to smoothly pass this milestone four days before launch as scheduled, now we really feel to be ready, and our Russian and NASA partners have expressed the same confidence," said Ellwood.

The ATV is considered the most sophisticated spacecraft developed in Europe and represents 11 years of development.

The Launch Readiness Review is organised by ESA to provide a final pre-launch assessment of the readiness status of the spacecraft and the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse. The review certifies that the spacecraft, integrated to the launcher, is ready to proceed into final countdown.

From NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Mike Suffredini, NASA International Space Station Programme Manager and seven of his staff, participated in the 3-hour meeting in Kourou by teleconference, as did a five-strong ATV-CC management team, from Toulouse.

The Russian ISS partners were represented by Nicolai Zelenschikov, First Vice President of RSC-Energia, who is in Kourou specially for the Jules Verne ATV launch. Rendezvous and docking of ATV with the ISS is scheduled for 3 April.

On the launcher side, the Ariane 5 Launch Readiness Review (or RAL, Revue d'Aptitude au Lancement) is scheduled for tomorrow, 6 March. This review certifies that the launcher meets all the Ariane 5 technical requirements and is ready for flight.

Roll-out of the 760-tonne launcher and Jules Verne ATV from the Final Assembly Building at Europe's Spaceport to the launch pad is scheduled for Friday 7 March.

earlier related report
Cool animation of ATV mission scenario
A cool animation illustrating all phases of the mission scenario for Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Jules Verne. ATV is scheduled to launch from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Sunday, 9 March.

After launch, the 20.7-tonne ATV is well protected at the top of Ariane 5 during a three-minute, high-pressure aerodynamic ascent; 100 minutes after lift-off, ATV becomes a fully automatic spacecraft navigating toward the International Space Station (ISS).

The ATV uses its laser-guided rendezvous sensors to dock precisely and safely with the ISS, becoming a working extension of the Station.

The 45 m pressurised module can deliver up to 7.2 tonnes of equipment, fuel, food, water and air for the crew, and it will also be used to raise the ISS altitude, which naturally decreases over time due to residual atmospheric drag.

After 6 months, ATV, loaded with 6.5 tonnes of waste, separates from the ISS and burns up during a guided and controlled re-entry high over the Pacific Ocean.

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