ESA's supply ship
Artist's impression of the Automated Transfer Vehicle approaching the International Space Station. In combination with ESA's new Ariane 5, the 20.5 t, 8.5 m-long Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will enable Europe to transport cargo to the International Space Station. This new vehicle, scheduled for its initial test flight in September 2004, can carry 9 tonnes of scientific equipment, general supplies, water, oxygen and propellant. Up to 4 t can be propellant for ATV's own engines to reboost the Station at regular intervals as atmospheric drag reduces the orbit. Developed under Aerospatialess prime contractorship, an ATV will be launched on average every 15 months as a means of ESA contributing to the Station's operating costs. It can remain docked for up to 6 months, during which time it will be loaded with Station waste before being undocked and flown into Earth's atmosphere to burn up.
Credits: ESA - D.Ducros
This new vehicle, scheduled for maiden flight in September 2004, will dock with the Station's Zvezda Service Module. It will carry a 7.4 tonne payload that includes water, oxygen and propellant. Four tonnes of the propellant will be used to reboost the Station at regular intervals; another 860 kg will be transferred to the Station for attitude and orbit control. ATV will be a separate transfer vehicle with avionics and propulsion capability. Launched by Ariane-5E, it will resemble a regular satellite payload protected by Ariane's fairing. Equipped with a set of engines and with solar panels, it will include a separate pressurised payload container. Controlled from the ATV Control Centre in Europe, its docking manoeuvres will be coordinated with the Space Station Control Center at Houston and with the Russian control centre near Moscow. Status as of March 2002.
Credits: ESA-D. Ducros