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October 31st, 2013

Arianespace—Hello To One, Farewell To Another (Space Vehicles + Launch)

The latest Automated Transfer Vehicle – known as Georges Lemaître – completed its trans-Atlantic voyage aboard the AGATA M cargo ship this week, arriving at French Guiana’s Pariacabo Port.
Photo courtesy of Arianespace.
[SatNews] Arianespace is readying to launch the latest Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), while ATV Albert Einstein—orbited by the company in June—has completed its successful servicing mission to the International Space Station.

The final ATV to be launched by Arianespace under current arrangements with the European Space Agency (ESA) has completed its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and arrived at French Guiana’s Pariacabo Port aboard the AGATA M cargo ship.

It was transported in three special containers from Bremen, Germany to South America, along with 80 sea containers of test equipment.

The spacecraft’s final assembly will be carried out at the Spaceport, including the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC), solar panels and the separation and distancing module (SDM) which forms the interface between the ATV and its Ariane 5 launcher.

ATV Georges Lemaître is pictured at prime contractor Astrium’s Bremen, Germany site before its journey to French Guiana. Photo is courtesy of EADS.
This Automated Transfer Vehicle—designated “Georges Lemaître—is planned by ESA for launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana next year with Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ES version, which has been utilized for all ATV launches to date. Named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître, the latest ATV follows the tradition of recognizing European leaders in science, technology and culture.

ATV Georges Lemaître is the fifth resupply spacecraft as part of Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle program, which has ferried scientific experiments, water, gases, propellant, spare parts, food and clothing to the manned orbital facility on four missions to date—all launched by Arianespace.

In addition, these spacecraft regularly boost the orbital facility to its operational altitude of approximately 400 km. and maneuver the International Space Station to avoid collisions with space debris.

As ATV Georges Lemaître arrives in French Guiana for its flight, ATV Albert Einstein undocked from the International Space Station this week, accomplishing its successful mission. Now carrying waste materials from the International Space Station, the spacecraft is performing a series of maneuvers to position it for an intended destructive deorbit into the Earth’s atmosphere. ATV Albert Einstein is scheduled to “return home” on November 2, during a guided re-entry in which it will disintegrate over the Pacific Ocean at an approximately 80 km. altitude.

As the passenger on June 5’s Ariane Flight VA213, ATV Albert Einstein carried the largest load of dry cargo ferried to the International Space Station by this series of servicing spacecraft, and was the heaviest payload ever to be orbited by an Ariane launcher.

Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 workhorse has been entrusted with orbiting all four ATV spacecraft to date: “Jules Verne” in March 2008; “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011; “Edoardo Amaldi” in March 2012; as well as June’s flight with Albert Einstein.

The European Space Agency manages the ATV program, with an Astrium-led industry consortium responsible for producing the resupply spacecraft.

To date, Ariane 5 has completed 57 consecutive successful missions, including four with ATV payloads. The heavy-lift launcher’s next mission is scheduled for December 6 from the Spaceport, to orbit SES and HISPASAT telecommunications satellites.