ESA launches its final ATV to the ISS

The fifth and final ATV blasted off on 29 July FROM Kourou, French Guiana

Credit: ESA

ATV-5, Georges Lemaître, will dock with the ISS on 12 August.

The fifth and final mission of ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has blasted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Georges Lemaître, the name given to the fifth ATV built by ESA, was launched on 29 July and will eventually dock with the International Space Station (ISS) on 12 August.

Since 2008, ESA’s ATVs have been ferrying vital supplies to the ISS as well as carrying out experiments whilst in orbit.

Before docking with the ISS, ATV-5 will help test ESA’s LIRIS laser infrared imaging sensor, a new system designed to make it easier for the ATV to rendezvous with targets without purpose-built docking ports.

ATV-5 is carrying 6602kg of supplies, including 2681kg of dry cargo and 3921kg of water, propellants and gases. After docking with the ISS, ATV0-5 is scheduled to remain there for around six months before returning to Earth with waste material that will – along with the ATV itself – burn up during re-entry.

But, according to Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations, the adventure doesn’t end here.

“ATV knowhow and technology will fly again to space as early as 2017 powering NASA’s Orion spacecraft with the European Service Module, ushering in the next generation of space exploration,” he said.

ATV mission timeline

ATV-1, Jules Verne, was launched on 9 March 2008.

The primary mission was to test whether ATVs could transport cargo to the ISS safely and reliably, and that the technology on board worked as planned.

ATV-1 docked with the ISS on 3 April 2008.

The spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere on 29 September 2009, breaking up on entry.



ATV-2, Johannes Kepler, was launched on 16 February 2011.

ATV-2 carried 1760kg of dry cargo, including food, clothes and equipment, 860kg of propellant and 100kg of oxygen to the ISS.

The spacecraft docked with the ISS on 24 February 2011 and remained attached to the Space Station until July 2011




ATV-3, Edoardo Amaldi, was launched on 23 March 2012.

It's varied cargo included almost seven tonnes of propellant, oxygen, air and water, scientific equipment, spare parts, supplies, clothes and food.

ATV-3 performed nine re-boosts to keep the ISS in orbit by reversing the effects of atmospheric drag.

The spacecraft undocked on 28 September 2012.



ATV-4, Albert Einstein, was launched on 5 June 2013.

ATV-4 docked with the ISS on 15 June 2013.

The three main sections that made up ATV-4 were built in different laboratories across Europe. Together, the Integrated Cargo Carrier was designed to carry water, gas, refuelling propellants and dry cargo.





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