by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) May 10, 2013
Fueling has been completed at the Spaceport in French Guiana for Europe's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), readying it for a planned June launch with Arianespace's workhorse Ariane 5 on an International Space Station servicing mission.
The loading of propellant, along with a supply of gas, was performed in the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation facility, where the vessel also was integrated and received its cargo. With this step finalized, the ATV is ready for transfer to the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building - where it will be installed atop the launcher.
This ATV payload is named after Albert Einstein, and will have a liftoff mass of 20,235 kg. - becoming the heaviest spacecraft ever lofted by Ariane 5. It carries the most diverse cargo mix of any ATV mission so far, consisting of fuel, water, air, oxygen and dry cargo for delivery to the International Space Station. In addition, the ATV will serve to adjust the orbital facility's altitude and make maneuvers to avoid collisions with space debris.
Liftoff of ATV Albert Einstein is scheduled for June 5 from the Spaceport. Arianespace is responsible for launching all ATVs, and has orbited three of them to date: ATV Edoardo Amaldi in 2012, ATV Johannes Kepler in 2011 and ATV Jules Verne in 2008. The Automated Transfer Vehicles are built by an industry team led by Astrium, which also is the industrial prime contractor for Ariane 5.
This upcoming Ariane 5 fight is the second scheduled in 2013, following Arianespace's February 7 success that orbited the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a telecommunications platforms from French Guiana.
In other activity this year, the lightweight Vega member of Arianespace's launcher family conducted its second flight from the Spaceport on a nighttime May 6-7 mission, orbiting three satellites (Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1); while the company's Starsem affiliate launched a medium-lift Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 6 with six Globalstar second-generation satellites.
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