Undisturbed rendezvous with the International Space Station ISS
Bremen-based space technology company OHB supplying protective shields and cable harnesses for ATV fleet
In Bremen today, the European Space Agency ESA commissioned a further six Automatic Transfer Vehicles (ATVs), which will be used to supply the International Space Station ISS and correct its orbit.
In space, the ATV transporters are exposed to the risk of damage from micro meteorites and debris, which hit their surface at speeds of 10-72 km/s. If the missions are to be successful, the ATVs must be fitted with a special shield known as the Meteoroids and Debris Protection System (MDPS) to avoid damage from meteorites and space debris. OHB has developed and tested such a system for the prototype, the first flight model known as the “Jules Vernes”. Dr. Rolf Janovsky, manager of the MDPS project is satisfied: “With the ATV-MDPS project, OHB has demonstrated its ability to develop, qualify and produce effective protection shields for averting damage caused by micro meteorites and space debris.” According to Janovsky, 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,” he adds.
As well as this, OHB is producing the cable harnesses for the drive levels of the ATVs. Roughly 5,000 meters of cable with 10,000 contacts spread across more than 600 plugs connect the ATV computers with the drive control elements (valves, motors, relays). Similarly, data collected by the sensors such as pressure, temperature, flowthrough etc. is fed back to the computers.
OHB has gained considerable experience in the area of harness production as well. Thus, the European COLUMBUS research laboratory on board the ISS features a harness produced by OHB measuring some 20 km in length. In addition to supplying power, the harness is used to carry the data collected from scientific experiments such as the Fluid Science Lab (FSL), for which OHB has supplied the complete signal, power and video lines. After equipping the ATV prototype “Jules Vernes”, OHB now expects to receive follow-up orders valued at around EUR 10 mn for the other six vehicles.