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ATV-2 ‘Johannes Kepler’ ready for take-off

An exceptional launch: Ariane’s 200th flight

The ATV ‘Johannes Kepler’, designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space, is the second unmanned European transport spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS).

Named after the famous 16th century astronomer and mathematician, the ATV-2 is due to be launched on Wednesday 16 February by a specially adapted Ariane 5 from the European Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.

Weighing a total of 20.1 tonnes, the ATV-2 is the heaviest payload that Ariane has ever carried into orbit. The launch of ‘Johannes Kepler’ is also a highlight for another reason: it will be the 200th launch for Europe’s Ariane launcher, for which Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor.

The ATV is Europe’s contribution towards servicing the International Space Station. In addition to transporting fuel, gas, general supplies and scientific equipment, the ATV will also assist in maintaining the Space Station’s attitude control after docking.

As prime contractor to the European Space Agency (ESA), Airbus Defence and Space is leader of an industrial team involving 30 main contractors from the 10 European countries participating in the ATV programme, together with Russia and the USA.

Airbus Defence and Space is also responsible for Ariane 5’s development and delivery. Sole prime contractor for Ariane 5, Airbus Defence and Space delivers the fully assembled and tested launch vehicle to Arianespace, the commercial launch service provider.

Read more: See the special dossier (articles, interview, videos) about the ATV-2 ‘Johannes Kepler’

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