First ATV about to be launched

Automatic Transfer Vehicle ATV to be launched on board an Ariane-5 bound for the International Space Station/material contributions from OHB-System and MT Aerospace

Jules Verne ATV is prepared for launch at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana
Credits: 2008 - ESA - CNES - Arianespace Photo optique video du CSG

Known as Jules Verne, it is the first Automatic Transfer Vehicle ATV and will be used to supply the International Space Station ISS. At around 5 AM CET on Sunday morning, it will start on its trajectory to the ISS on board an Ariane 5 launcher. It will be docking with the station in around a month’s time. This period is required to check the ATV’s full functionality. The ATV, of which a further four to six are planned, will be equipped with special shields supplied by OHB to protect it from micro meteorites and other debris. Such protection systems will increasingly also be required for satellites and other space systems to ensure their survival in space given the rising volume of debris orbiting the earth. “These contracts give us an excellent basis for handling such future tasks,” says Vahlenkamp. As well as this, OHB is producing the cable harnesses for the drive levels of the ATV. Roughly 5,000 meters of cable with 10,000 contacts spread across more than 600 plugs connect the ATV computers with the valves, motors and relays. Similarly, data collected by the sensors such as pressure, temperature, flowthrough etc. is reported to the computers.

MT Aerospace AG, Augsburg, an affiliate of OHB-System AG and the largest German supplier to the Ariane program, has produced the thruster module (bearing structure), fuel tanks, high-press gas tanks and the water tanks for the 20-ton European ATV.

The ATV fleet will be responsible for supplying the ISS crew with equipment, spare parts, food, oxygen and water as well as for correcting the station’s orbit and will remain docked to the ISS for six months. After that, the ATV will be loaded with all the ISS equipment no longer required and will be incinerated in the earth’s atmosphere during its descent.

The launch can be tracked at

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