Airbus Defence and Space

To launch the Jules Verne ATV, Ariane 5 ES will ignite three times

Airbus Defence and Space has now spent more than three years preparing Ariane 5 for the ATV launch to the International Space Station. In contrast with a “standard” geostationary satellites launch mission, Ariane will be required to place the 19.5 tonnes of the Jules Verne module 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, for an eight-minute burn to place the stage and its precious cargo into an initial, elliptical orbit (perigee 130 km, apogee 260 km)
  • Forty-five minutes later, the second burn, lasting about 30 seconds, will circularise the EPS orbit at an altitude of 260 km and separate the ATV
  • The third burn, occurring ninety minutes later, will serve to ensure that the EPS drops safely back into the Pacific Ocean

The launcher preparation programme has not only involved validating the ability of the Aestus engine and EPS stage to carry out a totally new mission (nearly 200 ignition sequences were executed at Lampoldshausen under hot conditions over a broad temperature domain to ground qualify the Aestus engine), but has also led to development of a dedicated VEB, development of totally dedicated software and an exhaustive campaign to confirm the capability of the lower stages to carry an exceptional load in flight. It should be noted that, while lift-off mass of the payloads normally carried by Ariane is of the order of 8 to 10 tonnes, the ATV mission requires the launcher to place 20 tonnes into orbit!

Successful re-ignition of the Aestus engine was operated for the first time under actual flight conditions representative of the ATV mission during the Ariane 5 flight of October 5, 2007.

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2006, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.2 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are launchers and orbital infrastructure, spacecraft and ground segment, and  the development and delivery of satellite services.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2006, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.4 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.


Media Contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space GER) Phone: +49 (0) 7545 8 91 23

Francisco Lechon (Airbus Defence and Space ESP) Phone: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41

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