Airbus Defence and Space

A specially adapted launcher for an extraordinary passenger

The supply spacecraft ATV-2 ‘Johannes Kepler’, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, was launched on 16 February by a specially adapted Ariane 5 from the European Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.

This launch required a specially adapted version of Ariane 5!

Ariane ES/ATV - V200

This Ariane 5 ES has a re-ignitable upper stage, a strengthened vehicle equipment bay (VEB), and a specifically redeveloped flight programme. 

Weighing a total of 20.1 tonnes, the ATV-2 is the heaviest payload that Ariane has ever carried into orbit. Moreover, in contrast with a ‘standard’ geostationary satellite launch, Ariane 5 will be required to place the ATV into a circular, as opposed to elliptical, transfer orbit. 

To achieve this, the Aestus engine of the EPS upper stage, which normally burns for only one powered flight phase, will be ignited three times. Firstly, to place the stage and its precious cargo into an initial, elliptical orbit. The second burn will circularise the EPS orbit and separate the ATV. The third burn will serve to ensure that the EPS drops safely back into the Pacific Ocean. 

Ariane 5ATV