Airbus Defence and Space

Double success for Airbus Defence and Space: Ariane 5 launches ATV-4

Double success demonstrates again Airbus Defence and Space’s unmatched reliability record and expertise as the prime contractor of Ariane 5 and the ATV

55th consecutive successful launch of Ariane 5, with a new payload record of 20.2 tonnes

The ‘Albert Einstein’ space freighter is now making its way to the International Space Station

ATV-4 is expected to dock with it at 28,000 kph on 15 June

6 June 2013 - Ariane 5 ES has lifted off on its mission to place ATV-4 ‘Albert Einstein’ en route for the International Space Station (ISS). This, the 55th consecutive successful launch of Ariane from the European Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana, again proves the reliability of the heavy-lift European launcher and, thanks to its record payload of 20.2 tonnes, Airbus Defence and Space’s ability to keep on improving. Europe’s leading space technology company, Airbus Defence and Space, developed and built the Ariane 5 launcher and, as prime contractor to the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “This 55th Ariane 5 success in a row is also the 4th successful launch of an ATV, both developed and built by Airbus Defence and Space. This double success further demonstrates our expertise in developing and manufacturing human spaceflight systems. The technologies developed for the ATV have enabled our teams to work with the European Space Agency and its partners and to look at future adaptations for human missions to the ISS, the Moon or even further afield. This new payload record also shows that the industrial system put in place since Airbus Defence and Space became prime contractor of Ariane 5 has created reliability and economies of scale. This is a key asset that Airbus Defence and Space is making use of in the development and manufacture of Ariane 5 ME and in the Ariane 6 industrial development studies – projects on which our teams are working tenaciously.”

Once placed into orbit at an altitude of around 260 kilometres, the ATV will deploy its four solar panels, with a wingspan of 22.3 metres, as well as an antenna for communication with the ISS. The ATV is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on 15 June 2013, 13:48:14 (GMT) and then to dock automatically. After aligning its docking system with the designated Russian module, ATV ‘Albert Einstein’ will gently come into contact with the Russian docking platform, with an accuracy of a few centimetres. Once contact has been made, the ATV will automatically execute the mechanical and electrical docking procedure, which will connect the cargo vehicle to the ISS. The ATV will then become a fully fledged operational module forming part of the Station.

Airbus Defence and Space has been the prime contractor of the Ariane 5 European launcher, one of the largest and most ambitious space programmes in the world, since 2003 and oversees an industrial network comprising more than 550 companies (over 20% of them SMEs) in 12 European countries. Airbus Defence and Space also manages the entire industry supply chain, from the manufacture of equipment and stages to the complete integration of the launcher in French Guiana, in line with the customer’s specifications. Thanks to the expertise the company has acquired and the investments it has made in this near 10-year period, Ariane 5 has become the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market and has increased its geostationary orbit payload capacity by nearly one metric ton. A flagship of European know-how, the Ariane 5 launcher has been specifically designed to carry heavy payloads into space.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Together, pioneering excellence

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.

In 2012, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Airbus Defence and Space, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Airbus Defence and Space, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.


Press contacts

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)
Tel.: +44 (0)1438 773872
Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Tel.: +33 (0)1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)
Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971
Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41

Ariane 5ATV