23 March 2012
The third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo vessel, featuring a pressurized service module and other major components from Thales Alenia Space, reflects the key role of Europe and Italy in supporting the International Space Station.
Cannes, March 23, 2012 – The European Space Agency’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV3) was successfully launched today by an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 01:34 am local time (04:34 UTC, 05:34 am in Western Europe).
The ATV3 is named in honor of the great Italian physicist and space science pioneer, Edoardo Amaldi. These cargo vehicles are developed by European industry on behalf of the European Space Agency as part of its contribution to the International Space Station (ISS). The Italian space agency has been involved in this program from the outset.
The unmanned ATV will automatically dock with the ISS to transfer experimental equipment, spare parts, food, air and water for the crew. The pressurized ICC (Integrated Cargo Carrier) service module, built by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, carries over two tons of cargo, as well as 860 kg of propellant to be transferred to the ISS, 285 kg of water, and 100 kg of air. The ATV also carries three tons of propellant to reboost the Space Station into its nominal orbit in its propulsion module. The ATV cargo transfer operations will be carried out by the ISS crew using control and monitoring systems in the ICC service module, also developed by Thales Alenia Space.
The third ICC module built by Thales Alenia Space comprises a pressurized cylinder 4.6 meters in diameter and 4 meters long, including the ISS docking system at the front, and a non-pressurized area 0.7 meters long, including the refueling system and the water and oxygen supply tanks. The sensors, antenna and part of the attitude control thrusters for navigation and the ISS docking phase are integrated in the ICC module, along with all electronic control equipment for the docking phase. This equipment is adapted from components used on Russia’s Progress and Soyuz vehicles, and was supplied by RSCEnergia.
Thales Alenia Space played a pivotal role in the production of the third ATV, with responsibility for the following:
Design and construction of the ICC, including the passive thermal protection system and participation in system testing and integration.
Preparations for the operational phase, especially for cargo integration and management, and also for the in-orbit phase, as an integral part of the mission control team.
Development and construction of the solar array drive subsystem, which keeps the solar panels pointed towards the Sun, and transfers the energy generated by these panels to the power subsystem in the ATV service module.
Four power conditioning units (PCU), which distribute power to certain parts of the ATV.
Telemetry, tracking and control (TTC) communications components, operating via NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).
Local communications system, handling communications between the ATV and the ISS during the final approach and docking phase.
Thales Alenia Space recently announced that it has completed integration of the ICC service module for the fourth ATV, named after world-renowned scientist Albert Einstein. The ICC has been shipped from Thales Alenia Space’s integration center in Turin, Italy to the program prime contractor Astrium in Bremen, Germany. The Albert Einstein ATV4 will now undergo a series of tests before being shipped to the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, for a launch to the International Space Station in early 2013. Thales Alenia Space, and especially the Turin plant, is already working full speed ahead on the ATV5, which will feature certain improvements.
Thales Alenia Space is also building nine Pressurized Cargo Modules (PCM) for the International Space Station, to be carried by the Cygnus spacecraft, as part of the CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract awarded by NASA to Orbital Sciences. In addition, it is developing the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) atmospheric reentry system for ESA, and the EXPERT (EXPErimental Reentry Testbed), to support research on atmospheric reentry technologies.
About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecommunications, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. With consolidated revenues of 2 billion euros in 2010, Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 9 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium. www.thalesaleniaspace.com
Thales Alenia Space Press Contact
Sandrine Bielecki -Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94
Tarik Lahlou - Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 68 45