The preparation campaign for Europe’s fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is now in full swing at the Spaceport, where pre-flight checkout has commenced for the large cargo resupply spacecraft’s Service Module.
This major component – which includes propulsion systems, electrical power, computers, communications and avionics – was unloaded from its special shipping container and positioned for processing inside the Spaceport’s S5C preparation hall, joining the ATV’s Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) element that began its own checkout last week.
Four silicon-based solar arrays are outfitted on the Service Module, designed to unfold in orbit and reach a 22.3-meter span to provide electrical power for rechargeable batteries. These arrays – which can produce an average of 4,800 Watts – are totally independent from one another and can get the best orientation to the Sun due to rotating mechanisms.
The Service Module is to be mated with the Integrated Cargo Carrier during upcoming activity at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, forming the complete ATV spacecraft – which will be mounted on Ariane 5 using a cylindrical Separation and Distancing Module (SDM) that forms the interface between this resupply spacecraft and its launcher.
Europe’s fifth ATV for launch by Arianespace begins its pre-flight checkout at the Spaceport
The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Georges Lemaître has begun preflight checkout in the Spaceport’s clean room facilities, following its arrival in French Guiana for a scheduled Ariane 5 flight next year.
Artwork depicting the Ariane 5 flight with ATV-5, as well as the vessel's namesake. Credit: Arianespace
As the fifth and final ATV to be launched by Arianespace under current arrangements with the European Space Agency, this spacecraft’s Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) has now been removed from its special shipping container in the S5C preparation hall.
In the Spaceport’s S5C high bay, ATV Georges Lemaître’s Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) emerges from its specialized shipping container. Credit: Arianespace
Time-lapse video: Ariane 5 flight VA213, with ATV Albert Einstein on board. Lift off was Wednesday, 5 June 2013, at 23:52 CEST. Hope you enjoy this video - we certainly are!
Credit: ESA/S. Corvaja, M. Pedoussaut, M. Barasz
ATV-4′s 6 million km voyage to the International Space Station
Boat, aircraft and then Ariane launcher to the International Space Station...
Rolled out and ready to rock
Ariane 5 flight VA 213 with ATV Albert Einstein on board is ready for lift off from Europe's Spaceport: we're going to Station! Scroll down for a selection of photos showing what's been happening in Kourou in the past 18 hours...
All images credit: ESA/S. Corvaja, 2013
On the launch pad: zone de lancement 3
Ariane 5 on the transporter
Leaving the final assembly building
The long road to space
The making of ATV-4
Before Europe's advanced space transporter is ready for launch on its voyage to the International Space Station, the components that make up ATV Albert Einstein have traveled quite some kilometers over sea, land and air:
One size does not fit all
ATV Albert Einstein, as all spacecraft, needs a specific launcher adapter to connect the spacecraft to its Ariane rocket. We received some great pictures of Ariane's 'crowning' in Kourou and the whole process of integrating the (black) launcher adapter and ATV itself. Precision work with a 12-tonne spacecraft! A story in images:
ATV Albert Einstein is installed on its Ariane 5 launcher for Arianespace’s next heavy-lift mission
Arianespace marked one of the final steps in preparations for the next Ariane 5 launch as Europe’s latest Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) was integrated atop the heavy-lift workhorse at the Spaceport.
ATV Albert Einstein is lowered into position for integration with its Ariane 5 launcher inside the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building as preparations near completion for next month’s mission. Credits: CNES/ESA/Arianespace/CSG Service optique
This latest ATV – named after German-born physicist Albert Einstein – was lowered by an overhead crane onto its Ariane 5 inside the 90-meter-tall Final Assembly Building in French Guiana.
The payload fairing – which will complete the launcher build up – will be mounted closer to the launch date, allowing for loading of late cargo for the ATV’s International Space Station servicing mission. This second Ariane 5 flight of 2013 is scheduled for a June 5 liftoff.
Integration of the ATV Albert Einstein for Ariane Flight VA213 is part of this month’s activities on four parallel missions involving Arianespace’s complete launcher family at the Spaceport – including the successful orbiting of three passengers by the lightweight Vega vehicle on May 7. Rounding out this month’s action in French Guiana are ongoing preparations for the medium-lift Soyuz Flight VS05, scheduled for June to loft four O3b Networks satellites; and Flight VA214, set in the second half of July with an Ariane 5 to carry the Alphasat and Insat-3D satellites.
Flight VA213’s ATV Albert Einstein will have a liftoff mass of 20,235 kg. – the heaviest payload ever lofted by any Ariane vehicle. In addition to resupply, the ATV will be used for manoeuvring the International Space Station.
Built by an Astrium-led industry team, ATV Albert Einstein will be the fourth such servicing vehicle launched by Arianespace for the European Space Agency.
One of our favourite views of any ATV launch campaign: moving the assembled and fuelled vessel on a giant skid to the S5B preparation zone in Kourou. From there, it will undergo final launch preparations and be hoisted to the top of the giant Ariane booster.
Late Cargo Access dress rehearsal
LCAM operator in ATV-4
Kirsten MacDonell, ESA's Cargo Integration Engineer who oversees cargo activities on ATV sent us this update from Kourou:
The ATV-4 team finished a dress rehearsal for the new Late Cargo Access Means (LCAM) in Kourou. The new LCAM will allow larger and heavier last-minute cargo to be loaded, 75 kg Triple Cargo Transfer Bags versus our previous capability of 25 kg Double Bags.
During the dress rehearsals the new LCAM is covered in blue sterile sheets in one of the photos since we want to keep ATV-4’s Integrated Cargo Carrier as free from microorganisms as possible whenever working inside: this includes both putting operators in bunny suits and disinfecting hardware.
LCAM under blue sheeting
The team had tested the system on mock-ups at APCO in Switzerland but this was the first time the system was mounted above ATV-4’s Cargo hold and used to enter inside.
To prove the system and ensure safety the team had to first demonstrate rescuing an operator and then rescuing an unconscious operator. In the second case an LCAM operator had to enter ATV’s cargo hold to assist the rescue operation of a colleague who acted unconcious. Both operators where attached to winches.
The first manoeuvre took only 22 seconds, whereas the ‘rescue operation’ took 61 seconds… both very fast times that ensure safety if anything should occur.
Times in UTC
6/05 - ATV-4 moves to the BAF for final preparations
8/05 - ESA Operations Readiness Review
20/05 - Late-cargo loading
31/05 - Launch Readiness Review
03/06 - IMMT GO/NO-GO for launch & docking
05/06 - Lift-off Arianespace VA213 23:52 CEST
15/06 - Docking 15:46 CEST
28/10 - Undocking 9:55 CET
2/11 - Reentry 13:05 CET All future dates subject to change