Over the coming months The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) programme for the International Space Station (ISS) will come to an end when ESA’s fifth ATV completes its mission. The ATV named Georges Lemaître reached the ISS on 12 August with its last cargo delivery and to complete the ESA’s last resupply and reboost mission. It is the final ATV built and launched by ESA since 2008 as part of Europe’s contribution to cover the operational costs for using the Space Station.
“The ATV programme is one of the most remarkable space and industrial projects ever made in Europe,” notes Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.
“ESA, thanks to its Member States and European industry, has provided a series of advanced spaceships, launched at regular intervals of about one year. Six years after its maiden flight, the ATV is still a unique vehicle demonstrating what ESA and [the] European industry can do in serving European cooperation and innovation”.
Rakon supplied Space OCXOs, TCXOs and VCXOs for the ATV programme. The components are integrated into the transponders and the GPS systems on board the ATVs.
“Rakon has been very proud of our longstanding involvement with the ATV programme”, said Fabrice Goulven, Rakon’s Sales and Marketing Manager (High Reliability Products).
“The oscillators onboard the ATVs were required to perform exceptionally under demanding environmental conditions.”
With a total weight of more than 20 tonnes (or metric tons), ATV Georges Lemaître has carried the heaviest load ever launched by an Ariane 5. At the end of its stay the freighter will leave with waste material for destruction along with the spaceship during atmospheric re-entry.
Future deliveries to the ISS will be undertaken by other agencies and spacecraft. In September NASA’s SpaceX CRS-4, arrived at the ISS to deliver cargo and crew supplies.
About the ATV
An Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is a multipurpose unmanned ferry developed by ESA to resupply the International Space Station and keep the outpost’s permanent crew of six working at full capacity. Carried into orbit by Europe’s Ariane 5, each spacecraft delivered cargo to the ISS including supplies, equipment, water, air, nitrogen, oxygen and fuel.
About the International Space Station
The ISS is the biggest object ever flown in space. The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields.
It travels around the Earth at an average speed of 27,700 km/h, completing 16 orbits per day. At night it can easily be seen from Earth, as it flies 320 kilometres above us. 16 countries, including the USA, Russia, Japan, Canada and many ESA member states worked together to build the Station.