The ATV is part of the European participation in the ISS - an optional ESA programme. It means that 10 countries out of the group of all 18 ESA Member States participate in the ISS project and are also involved in the ATV project.
Each country decides in which optional programme it wishes to participate and the amount of its contribution. ESA operates on the basis of geographical return, i.e. it invests in each Member State — through industrial contracts for space programmes — an amount more or less equivalent to each country's contribution.
The ATV project involves dozens of companies and thousands of technicians and engineers from 10 European countries under the prime contractorship of EADS SPACE Transportation (France).
Among the European companies are Thales Alenia Space, EADS-Astrium, Oerlikon Space, Dutch Space, Snecma, Alcatel Espacio, Crisa, MAN and many others. It also implicates the cooperation of eight companies from Russia, whose main contractor is RSC Energia, which has built the ATV docking mechanism, the refuelling system and the associated electronics.
ESA has managed a budget of around 1.3 Billion Euros over 13 years for the ATV programme development, including the building of ground equipments, the first ATV Jules Verne and the inaugural flight of the ATV.
Last update: 4 March 2010