The European Space Agency’s fifth and last ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) was successfully launched from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Thales Alenia Space supplied the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) for all ATV cargo vessels as main industrial partner of a European consortium headed by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the European Space Agency (ESA). The ATV is part of the International Space Station (ISS) program, to which the Italian Space Agency has made significant contributions. ATV-5 was named after the great Belgian scientist Georges Lemaître, father of the Big Bang theory.
Like the first four ATVs – named after Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler, Edoardo Amaldi and Albert Einstein – the ATV-5 Georges Lemaître will supply the Space Station with experimental equipment, spare parts, food, air and water. In addition to the 2.7 metric tons of cargo inside the pressurized module, the ATV-5 will also transport 2.1 metric tons of fuel, which will be used to maintain the Space Station in orbit, 860 kg of fuel to replenish the propulsion system of the Russian Service Module, plus 850 kg of water and 100 kg of oxygen and air. The cargo transfer operations will be carried out by the Space Station crew members and they will be monitored in real time from the ATV Control Center with support provided by ALTEC Control Center in Turin, Italy by a joint team of Thales Alenia Space and ALTEC technicians.
The two cargo transport systems developed by Thales Alenia Space will overlap at the Space Station for around thirty days: the ICC for the ATV and the Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM), developed for NASA by Orbital Sciences Corporation and Thales Alenia Space, and launched on July 13.
This successful launch culminates the ATV program, for which Thales Alenia Space, especially the Turin plant, has played a major role. In addition, since the first ATV, dubbed Jules Verne, Thales Alenia Space Belgium has supplied two power conditioning units (PCU) for each ATV, supplying electrical power for part of the vehicle. Thales Alenia Space Belgium also produced the power supply for the videometers that allows the ATV to dock to the International Space Station. Moreover, Thales Alenia Space España supplied the only communication equipment available onboard all the ATVs, the TTC data communication equipment via the Tracking Data Relay Satellite Systems (TDRSS) in Spread Spectrum technology.
Following the launch, Luigi Maria Quaglino, Senior Vice President, Exploration and Science at Thales Alenia Space, said, “The expertise that Europe has developed through the ATV program will now be used to develop NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), for space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. Europe will provide the Service Module and Thales Alenia Space is once again a major player in this project.”
The Integrated Cargo Carrier developed by Thales Alenia Space for the ATV comprises a pressurized cylindrical section, measuring 4.6 meters in diameter by 4 meters long, and a rear section about 1 meter long that houses the fuel, water and oxygen resupply system.
Source: Thales Group (Paris: HO.PA)
Date: Jul 30, 2014