Mission accomplished! Arianespace launches ATV4 Albert Einstein cargo vessel to the International Space Station
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, Arianespace’s second Ariane 5 mission of the year, on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA), successfully launched the ATV4 (Automated Transfer Vehicle) cargo vessel, designated "Albert Einstein", to the International Space Station.
69th Ariane 5 launch, 55th success in a row
This latest successful Ariane 5 launch once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities and its ability to ensure Europe’s independence in space. Ariane 5 handles a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to dedicated launches into special orbits. Coming just one month after Arianespace’s successful launch of the Vega light launcher, Ariane 5 logs its 55th successful mission in a row, clearly demonstrating its flexibility and reliability, along with the operational robustness of Arianespace’s family of launchers. Europe’s heavy launch vehicle set a new record on its 69th launch, sending more than 20.2 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO).
Today’s mission confirms that Arianespace’s launch servicescontinue to set the global standard and guarantee independent access to space for all customers, including national and international space agencies, private firms and governments.
Fourth successful Ariane 5 ES launch
Arianespace used the Ariane 5 ES version of the launcher for the ATV4 Albert Einstein mission. It was the fourth successful launch of this version, following the original ATV1 Jules Verne mission in 2008, the ATV2 Johannes Kepler mission in 2011, and the ATV3 Edoardo Amaldi mission in 2012. Arianespace uses the Ariane 5 ES version to launch ATV cargo vessels to the International Space Station, as well as for batches of satellites in the Galileo constellation. The Ariane 5 ES version uses the same lower composite as the standard Ariane 5 ECA model, comprising the cryogenic main stage and solid boosters, plus a special upper composite, the EPS reignitable storable propellant stage.
Following the announcement of the successful ATV4 launch, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said: “This launch marks Arianespace’s fourth mission to the International Space Station, and confirms the status of the Guiana Space Center as a member of the very select club of ISS launch centers. Furthermore, by boosting over 20 metric tons into LEO, we have set a new record for the Ariane 5 heavy launcher. This latest success clearly shows how the complementary launch services we offer through Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz address the full range of needs for our government and commercial customers. I would like to congratulate all our suppliers for their outstanding performance, especially Astrium, prime contractor for the launcher and the ATV, and express our thanks to ESA for their continuing trust and its commitment to the ATV program.”
ATV4 mission at a glance
The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ES launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm local time in Kourou (21:52 UTC, 11:52 pm in Paris, 4:32 pm in Houston, TX, and 1:52 am on Thursday, June 6 in Moscow).
ATV4 Albert Einstein cargo vessel
The Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, is designed to bring supplies to the International Space Station (water, air, food, propellants for the Russian section, spare parts, experimental hardware, etc.), and to reboost the ISS into its nominal orbit. The ISS weighs more than 418 metric tons, including the European laboratory Columbus. After being docked to the ISS for several months, the ATV4 will be loaded with waste and other expendable materials, then detached from the ISS and deorbited. After separating from the launch vehicle, the ATV4 will be autonomous, using its own systems for energy (batteries and four large solar panels) and guidance (GPS, star sensor), in liaison with the control center in Toulouse. During final approach, an optical navigation system will guide the ATV4 to its rendezvous with the Space Station, where it will automatically dock several days after launch.
The ATV4 will remain docked to the ISS for nearly five months, before making a guided reentry, where it will disintegrate in the atmosphere. The ATV4 was built in Europe by Astrium leading a consortium of manufacturers. A large cylinder measuring about 10 meters long by 4.5 meters in diameter, the ATV4 comprises two main parts: a service module with the avionics and propulsion subsystems, and a pressurized cargo carrier.