Oct 03, 2012–Paris,France (Techreleased) –Successful end to mission: Today the European automated transfer vehicle ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi, which was developed and built by Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, successfully completed its mission. Loaded with roughly 1,000 kilograms of waste, the European supply vehicle for the International Space Station burned up as planned during a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere over the southern Pacific Ocean. At its launch on 23 March 2012, ATV-3 Edoardo Amaldi was carrying almost 6.6 tons of fuel, gases, spare parts, experiments, food, clothing and everyday necessities for the International Space Station. Over the course of the six-month mission, the ISS crew gradually unloaded ATV and then loaded it with roughly 1,000 kilograms of waste for disposal.
In addition to supplying the space station and disposing of its waste, ATV is also responsible for regularly reboosting the station. During its mission, ATV carried out a total of nine reboost manoeuvres (on 5 & 25 April, 4 & 26 May, 20 June, 18 July, 15 & 22 August and 13 & 14 September). The number of reboost manoeuvres have steadily increased over the ATV missions from three (ATV-1 “Jules Verne”) to six (ATV-2 “Johannes Kepler”) to now nine. These manoeuvres are essential to bring the station back up to its orbit of around 400 km, as atmospheric friction causes it to lose altitude by between 50 and 100 metres a day. Furthermore the ATV fulfilled six so-called propulsive support operations which are needed for the approaching and the de-docking of Progress and for collision avoidance.
“Like the ATV missions 1 and 2 before it, this third mission was a total success. ATV completely fulfilled all expectations. After the retirement of the US Space Shuttle, the ATV cargo vessel is the largest supply vehicle for the International Space Station,” said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium Space Transportation, following the successful completion of the mission. “Preparations for the fourth, penultimate ATV mission are already well underway. ATV “Albert Einstein” arrived at the European spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana) two weeks ago and is being prepared for launch in spring 2013,” continued Charmeau. Also in the integration phase is the last ATV “George Lemaître”, which is due for launch in 2014.
“We are currently working on studies relating to the development of new space vehicles. We will be making good use here of our experience from the development and production of ATV and the Columbus research laboratory as we further develop and improve existing technologies for a whole variety of future missions,” explained Charmeau. “The experience and technologies acquired during the development of ATV form an excellent basis for Europe for future related activities, especially in the field of space exploration.”
In June 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) awarded Astrium a contract worth 13 million euros to carry out two development studies on new space vehicles.
Astrium is responsible for the development and production of the cargo vessels on behalf of ESA.