Europe's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to service the International Space Station is entering its final preparation phase for a planned Ariane 5 launch this spring from French Guiana on Arianespace's Flight VA213.
Named after Albert Einstein, the ATV is being processed in the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation building, where it was transferred yesterday from the facility's S5C large preparation hall into its S5B high-bay area. Riding on an air cushion pallet, the ATV was efficiently moved within the S5 building using internal transfer corridors that are maintained to clean-room conditions.
Following its final preparations, ATV Albert Einstein will be moved to the Spaceport's launcher integration building, where the large spacecraft is to be integrated atop Ariane 5.
Weighing approximately 20 metric tons at launch, the series of Automated Transfer Vehicles are developed in a European program for resupply and servicing of the International Space Station, and they rendezvous with the orbital facility after being deployed by Ariane 5.
Produced by an Astrium-led industry team for the European Space Agency, this latest ATV will carry some 6,270 kg. of fuel, water, air, oxygen and dry cargo to the space station. Additionally, ATVs are commonly used to adjust the International Space Station's orbital altitude and make maneuvers to avoid collisions with space debris.
Flight VA213 signifies the 213th flight of an Ariane with this workhorse family of launchers since 1979. Arianespace is responsible for launching all ATVs, and has orbited three of them to date: ATV Edoardo Amaldi in 2012, ATV Johannes Kepler in 2011 and ATV Jules Verne in 2008.