The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) was developed as part of a project for the European Space Agency ESA. It is a versatile transporter which can be used for different purposes such as carrying supplies to and from the space station and delivering and collecting infrastructural components.
The ATV is placed in orbit on
board an ARIANE 5 allowing it to dock with the space station.
However, it is exposed to the risk of damage from natural and man-made particles (meteorites and space debris). These particles impact the surface of the ATV at high speed (normally 10-72 km/s) and can cause severe damage to the primary structure and subsystems. In the interests of mission success, the vehicle and its subsystems must therefore be equipped with a protection system during all orbital mission phases.
Known as the Meteoroid and Debris Protection System (MDPS), it was developed and qualified by OHB System under the terms of a subcontract with RUAG Space, Zurich, which is responsible for the ATV structure. Fabrication of the system is subcontracted to APCO Technologies SA, Vevey.