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News Release

Europe's ATV space ferry ready for launch

03 February 2011 European Space Agency (ESA)

The launch will be covered live from Kourou for broadcasters and on the Web, and celebrated at a launch event in Bremen, Germany.

Europe's second ATV

Johannes Kepler is the first operational ATV, following the highly successful Jules Verne qualification flight in 2008. With a total mass of over 20 tonnes, it is the heaviest payload ever launched by Europe.
ATV is a highly sophisticated spacecraft, combining an autonomous free-flying platform, a manoeuvrable space vehicle and – when docked – a space station module.

To achieve an automated docking under the very tight safety constraints imposed by human spaceflight rules, ATV carries high-precision navigation systems, highly redundant flight software and a fully autonomous collision-avoidance system with its own independent power supplies, control and thrusters.

About 10 m high with a diameter of 4.5 m, ATV includes a 45-cubic m pressurised module and a Russian docking system, similar to those used on the Soyuz manned ferries and the Progress resupply ships.

With its solar wings deployed, ATV spans 22 m. Almost three times larger than Russia's Progress, it can also deliver about three times the cargo load.
 Propellant and cargo for the ISS
On this first operational mission, ATV-2 is carrying over 7 tonnes of payload, including 4534 kg of propellant for International Space Station (ISS) reboost and attitude control.

Once docked to the ISS, this propellant will be used by ATV's own thrusters to raise the Station's orbit periodically in order to compensate for the natural decay caused by atmospheric drag.

It may also be used to move the ISS out of the way of potentially dangerous space debris that comes too close to the manned space complex.

ATV's payload includes almost 1600 kg of dry cargo, 850 kg of propellant for Russia's Zvezda module and 100 kg of oxygen.
Before leaving the ISS, in June, Johannes Kepler will be filled with waste bags and unwanted hardware by the crew. It will then be deorbited over the Southern Pacific Ocean and perform a controlled reentry to burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

Exceptionally, no drinking water will be delivered because there is already plenty aboard the ISS. The water tanks will, though, be filled with liquid waste from the Station before departure.

ATV Johannes Kepler is named after the famous German astronomer and mathematician who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. He first depicted the movement of planetary bodies in elliptical orbits, thus paving the way for Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation.

It is the second in a series of five spaceships developed as Europe's contribution to the operational costs of the ISS. Astrium Space Transportation is prime industrial contractor, leading a team of more than 30 contractors in 10 European countries.
Covering the launch

Access real-time news & updates in ESA's ATV blog via:
ESA TV is providing extensive coverage of the ATV mission. Several stories featuring the latest images and interviews from Kourou will be released on ESA TV's FTP server and via satellite on the Europe by Satellite (EbS) service. Already available are two Video News Releases covering the ATV-2 mission, with shots of the launch campaign in Kourou, and interviews in English, German, French and Swedish. The launch will be transmitted live from Kourou in cooperation with Arianespace. Later in the month, the docking with the ISS will also be available live via satellite. All details will be found on ESA TV's site:
In cooperation with EADS Astrium, a media event for the launch will take place in Bremen, Germany. The briefing will begin at 17:00 and include visits to the ATV-3 and ATV-4 cleanrooms. Please find further information in the notes for editors.
Access real-time news & updates in ESA's ATV blog via:

Attached files

  • Artist's impression of the Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler. For more info: Credits: ESA - D. Ducros, 2010

  • Artist's impression of the Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler approaching the International Space Station. Credits: ESA - D. Ducros, 2010

  • ATV Johannes Kepler during transfer from S5C to S5A, 19 November 2010, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou. For more info: Credits: ESA/CNES/Arianespace - Photo Optique Vidéo du CSG, 2010

  • On the 15 February 2011, ESA will be making history by launching its heaviest spacecraft. Ariane 5 will be carrying ATV-2, Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle, its space freighter for the International Space Station. Named after the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, the ATV-2 is the first in a series of regular missions, after the inaugural flight of the Jules Verne in 2008. This video details why the Johannes Kepler is 600 kg heavier than the Jules Verne, describes the cargo that it carries and the late cargo access which is being used for the first time. It includes interviews with Nico Dettmann, Head of ATV Production at ESA and his colleague Charlotte Beskow, ATV-2 deputy Mission Manager. Credits: ESA TV, 2011

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