ESA has signed the study contract with EADS Astrium in Bremen, Germany, for the Advanced Reentry Vehicle (ARV), which received its approval at ESA’s Ministerial Conference in November 2008.
The contract was signed on 7 July by Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight, and Dr Michael Menking, Senior Vice-President and Head of Orbital Systems and Exploration at EADS Astrium, in the presence of ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, CEO of EADS Astrium Space Transportation, Alain Charmeau, Chairman of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Prof. Dr Johann-Dietrich Wörner and the Mayor of Bremen, Jens Böhrnsen.
ARV would provide ESA with the means of undertaking complete space transportation missions, from launch to landing, using the International Space Station (ISS) as its initial destination. Launched on an Ariane 5, the ARV would have a forward section to return payloads to Earth. This concept could then be used as a basis for developing a crew return vehicle.
ARV is based on an evolution of the ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which has shown its capabilities for logistics supply to the ISS, and on the reentry technologies tested by the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator.
“The signature today is a concrete step towards the implementation of the decisions taken at ESA’s Ministerial Conference in November last year, and a clear sign of Europe’s commitment to play an even greater role in the global human spaceflight and exploration undertakings,” said Mrs Di Pippo after the contract signature.
“We are building on our technological basis and achievements to position Europe in a more important role in this strategic field, leveraging on our industrial base and nurturing its highly skilled workforce. Today’s signature is the first step of a journey that will be very rewarding for Europe.”
The signing was preceded by a seminar for international media focusing on ATV-2 Johannes Kepler and ARV. Later, the media and politicians visited the major elements of the ATV-2 Service Module in the cleanroom at Astrium and had the opportunity to interact with ESA astronaut Frank De Winne aboard the ISS, who greeted the participants and confirmed the importance of ATV-2 for ISS logistics.