Basic build-up of the Ariane 5 for Arianespace's upcoming mission with the no. 3 Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has been completed, as preparations continue for an early 2012 launch from the Spaceport to service the International Space Station.
The heavy-lift Ariane 5 was "topped off" this week with its vehicle equipment bay and EPS storable propellant upper stage, which were installed atop the core cryogenic stage that previously had been joined with the launcher's two solid propellant boosters.
Ariane 5's EPS upper stage is designed to be reignited during flight - a capability required in the mission profile to loft the ATV for its low Earth orbit rendezvous with the International Space Station.
Once the built-up Ariane 5 has finished the current phase of validation tests in the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building, it will be moved to the Final Assembly Building and delivered to Arianespace for installation of the ATV and the final operations leading to launch.
This latest ATV is named after Italian cosmic ray physicist Edoardo Amaldi and will carry cargo, water and propellant to the International Space Station. It will be the third such resupply spacecraft launched by Arianespace, following missions this past February with ATV Johannes Kepler and in March 2008 with ATV Jules Verne.
The ATV is part of Europe's contribution to the International Space Station's operation. It is produced in a multi-national team led by EADS Astrium, which also is the industrial prime contractor for Ariane 5.
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