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SFS News: ATV - the European ISS resupply ship

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:32 pm
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SFS News: ATV - the European ISS resupply ship 
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Post SFS News: ATV - the European ISS resupply ship   Posted on: Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:32 pm
(CNES) - The Jules Verne, the first of Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicles designed to ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), arrived at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou late in July. Since its arrival, CNES teams have been preparing the ATV for launch in specially altered facilities, under the watchful eye of the director of operations. It is scheduled to make its maiden flight on 31 January 2008, on a specially adapted Ariane 5 launcher.

A modern, impressive spacecraft
Since August 2000, the ISS has been resupplied every 3 months or so by Progress-M cargo vessels with food, water, air and equipment.

The Progress-M also reboosts the ISS’s orbit—which decays up to 300 metres daily—and takes down garbage at the end of its mission, when it burns up on re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress-M entered service in 1989, when the Mir space station was still operational. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)—developed by Europe for the ISS programme alongside the Columbus laboratory and the European Robotic Arm (ERA)—is now set to take over some of the Progress-M’s tasks.

The ATV has a much more modern design and 3 times more freight capacity (7.5 tonnes).

It is the biggest spacecraft ever developed in Europe, weighing close to 21 tonnes at lift-off and measuring 10.3 metres long and 4.5 metres across. It spans 22 metres with its 4 solar panels deployed.

The ATV is large enough to hold a double-decker bus.

A very special launch
Given its size and mass, the ATV will require a specially adapted launcher and launch timing. An Ariane 5 ES ATV will be used for the 1st time to place the vehicle into orbit 260 kilometres from Earth. This variant will employ the same lower composite as an Ariane 5 ECA but a reignitable solid-booster upper stage.

After launch and an initial “dormantâ€


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:55 am
Its amazing how many articles I see that have sizes quoted in "double decker buses", when did this become the SI unit of volume? :)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:06 am
aaargggh... damn Brits :P

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:20 am
This measurement system is not user friendly as the units are to big no one talks about fractions of a bus, you need to divide it up a bit (possibly into tyres, windscreens or radiators for instance to make it more useful). :)

Can you buy an inflatable bus for comparason purposes? Perhaps anothermarket for Bigelow. :)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:19 pm
At least it makes more sense than weighing things in stones ;)


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:38 pm
IrquiM wrote:
At least it makes more sense than weighing things in stones ;)


Seems perfectly logical to me, what could be more straight forward than having multiples of 14lbs each made of 16oz? :)

Besides 15 stone seems a lot lighter than 210lbs to me. :)

PS: we could always use cwt (hundred weights) which are actually 112lb, there's 20 of them to a tonne;- nice and straight forward.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:32 am
Back on topic-

ESA has made a lot of noise about its ATV (and to be honest it represents a big step forward for Europe) but what I was wondering was that given the long construction time it has taken why have they not mentioned any future ATV craft.

My understanding was that there will be a series of ATVs vissiting the ISS at a rate of 1 or 2 a year but I have seen nothing other than news of the first vehicle (Jules Verne). Has a production line been set up or even names chosen for any of the subsequent craft? I seem to remember that ESA ordered something like 7 of these craft originally, is this still the case?

Another question is will the design be fixed once Jules Verne completes its mission or will ESA constantly evolve the craft as it learns more? That they will improve it is the obvious answer but not necessarily correct, given the amount of effort required to get agreement to dock to the ISS any change might be subject to huge amounts of regulation and international agreement. Under such circumstances it might be easy for ESA to build a less complex/smaller craft incorporating lessons learnt from ATV particularly if they want to make it capable of carrying astronauts which would require it to perform a safe re-entry and landing.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:22 pm
It was planned not to fly 1 or 2 a year but 1 every 1 or 2 years.

It's several weeks that it has been mentioned that the second ATV construction is nearing completion.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 25, 2007 6:25 pm
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
It was planned not to fly 1 or 2 a year but 1 every 1 or 2 years.


My mistake, I guess that makes more sense with Soyuz and Progress operating as well

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
It's several weeks that it has been mentioned that the second ATV construction is nearing completion.


I must of missed that, I've just had a look on ESA's site and cant find anything.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 25, 2007 11:01 pm
and don't forget that Japanese HTV (although with the currently planned flight rate of ATV, HTV and Progress I see a very big problem on the horizon regarding resupply..I know COTS..but that has still to work)

about the second ATV. It was mentioned in an article about the first ATV in only a few words, so quite difficult to find I guess.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:03 am
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
It was planned not to fly 1 or 2 a year but 1 every 1 or 2 years.


ROFL. That's just sad. Why develop a spacevehicle for so many years for so many millions and then just use it once a year. That's about 6 times worse then the Shuttle. They really have lost their marbles at the space agencies.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 26, 2007 11:04 am
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
It was planned not to fly 1 or 2 a year but 1 every 1 or 2 years.


ROFL. That's just sad. Why develop a spacevehicle for so many years for so many millions and then just use it once a year. That's about 6 times worse then the Shuttle. They really have lost their marbles at the space agencies.


I think that it may work out that they fly it more often (assuming it is successful) if there are problems meeting the necessary amount of freight to the ISS. ESA and Europe are commited to supplying a certain level of support to the ISS but agreements can be modified, as the Russians did when the shuttle was not flying. It will all depend on how much the ISS is utilised in the future when it is complete.

I will be interested in seeing what ESA will do after ATV is flying, with Columbus complete and ATV working wha will be their next big project:- a crew transfer vehical or something for Mars?

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 26, 2007 4:00 pm
Their "normal" scientific programs are running quite normal with a launch every 1-2 years.

Regarding the crew transfer vehicle. ESA (after initially only the French CNES) is already working together with the Russians to develop exactly that. The first step is the Soyuz-K, the digitized version of the Soyuz craft simply said.

The next program is called CSTS, the Crew Space Transportation System, formerly called ACTS, the Advanced Crew Transportation System. This craft is intended to be capable of flying lunar missions. As far as I remember (not quite sure about that though), the final decision which of several proposals will be developed is set for 2009.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:27 am
Just a few moments ago I became aware that the ATV might be launched via SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy - if only considered under the aspect of the ATV weighing 21 tons.

If the geometry allows for that also there might be significant reductions of costs if ESA would be willing to do so.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:05 am
I see a few problems there.. the first is technology transfer: The docking system for example is the licensed Russian/Ukrainian Kurs system. I think that would make a new license from Russia to the US/SpaceX necessary as they potentially could "spy" on the system while integrating the payload.

Second, ESA plans to build only a few more ATVs (about one every 18 months until 2015). Building more of them would need significant funding.

Why should SpaceX launch ATVs when they can offer their own (native US) resupply craft (Dragon)?

An interesting point I saw in a TV interview a few days ago. The chairman of the German Aerospace Center DLR stated that the ISS will be used at least until 2020.

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