ATV-3 on the move to final assembly building in Korou

ATV-3 moving to the Final Assembly Building at Kourou on 7 February 2012. Credit: ESA/K. MacDonell

ATV-3 moving to the Final Assembly Building at Kourou on 7 February 2012. Credit: ESA/K. MacDonell

On Tuesday evening, ATV-3 was on the move in Kourou, rolling on board the CCU3 (Conteneur Charge Utile 3) – a largish 'travel box' – from the fuelling area in the S5B building to the BAF – the final assembly building.

Yesterday evening, ESA's Kirsten MacDonell, ATV Phase E Cargo Integration Engineer, sent in these photos from Kourou with the following note:

Just to let you know that tonight the ATV will be transferred into the CCU3, which will bring it to the BAF.  The trip takes about 1 hour and the vehicle drives at a speed of 15km/hr (5km/hr on turns). This will mark the beginning of the combined operations, meaning ATV will soon be on top of the Ariane 5 launcher!

(You can read more details on this delicate operation in our post from 2011, when she was also at Kourou for ATV-2.)

ATV-3 moving to the Final Assembly Building at Kourou on 7 February 2012. Credit: ESA/K. MacDonell

ATV-3 moving to the Final Assembly Building at Kourou on 7 February 2012. Credit: ESA/K. MacDonell

It's fun to compare the massive size of ATV-3 to a typical satellite like ESA's Herschel, which was also launched via Ariane 5 (in 2009) and which also was transported to Kourou's BAF via the CCU3. And Herschel is actually a fairly large satellite! But it's quite a bit smaller in this photo:

On Wednesday 29 April the Herschel spacecraft was transported from the S5B building to the final assembly building (Bâtiment d'Assemblage Final, or BAF) at the Ariane launch site of the European spaceport in Kourou, for integration of the spacecraft on top of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher. For this transport the Herschel spacecraft was placed inside the payload transport container (Conteneur Charge Utile 3, or CCU3). After ensuring cleanroom conditions inside the BAF airlock, in the morning on 30 April the spacecraft was rolled out of the CCU3 container. Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique Vidéo du CSG - J.M. Guillon

About Daniel

Daniel Scuka is Senior Editor for Spacecraft Operations at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
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