Ariane 5 ES sends the ATV on its way to the ISS
On 16 February 2011 a specially adapted Ariane 5 rocket placed the 20.1 tonnes of the ATV-2 ‘Johannes Kepler’ in orbit.
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).
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 was the 200th launch for Europe’s Ariane launcher, for which Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor.
In addition to transporting fuel, gas, general supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS, 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.
But this is just the start of the ATV mission …
It will soon be embarking on the complicated phase when it will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) and perform a docking manoeuvre. At that point, the ATV will become a fully integrated, inhabited module of the ISS.
Find out more! A special dossier full of informative articles and videos has been created about the ATV ‘Johannes Kepler’.