Automated Transfer Vehicle

From Academic Kids

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ISS ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle (ESA)

The Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV is a European Space Agency spacecraft designed to supply the International Space Station with propellant, water, air, payload experiments and the like. In addition, the ATV can re-boost the station, restoring its orbit that shrinks over time due to friction with the atmosphere. It is an unmanned spacecraft launched with an Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana. After approximately 2 days of autonomous transfer flight it arrives at the International Space Station and docks automatically to the Russian Service Module Zvezda.


The design

The ATV is designed at least partially as a replacement for the Progress spacecraft, though with three times its capacity. Like the Progress it carries both bulk liquids and relatively fragile freight which is stored in a cargo hold kept in a pressurized shirtsleeve environment so that astronauts can have access to it without putting on a suit. Again like the Progress, the ATV will be serving at the same time as a container for the station's waste.

Each ATV weighs 20 metric tonnes at launch and has a cargo capacity of 9 metric tonnes:

  • 1500 - 5500 kg of dry cargo (re-supply goods, scientific payload, etc.),
  • 0 - 840 kg of water,
  • 0 - 100 kg of gas (Nitrogen, Oxygen, air, 2 gasses/flight),
  • 0 - 4700 kg of propellant for the re-boost manoeuvre and refueling the Station. The ATV propellant also used for re-boost (Monomethylhydrazine fuel and Nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer) is of a different type from the payload Russian refueling propellant (UDMH fuel and N2O2 oxidiser).

After undocking the ATV is led to a controlled burn-up in the atmosphere, along with up to 6.5 metric tonnes of waste.

Industrial organization for development and production

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Automative Tranfer Vehicle - a look at the compontents

The Prime Contractor of the ATV is EADS SPACE Transportation, leading a consortium of many sub-contractors. The prime contractor office is currently located in Les Mureaux, France, and will be transfered to Bremen, Germany, once the development is completed and the production of the six recurring models starts. In order to facilitate the relationship between the Prime Contractor and ESA, an integrated ESA team at the Les Mureaux site has been established for the duration of the development.

The first ATV, whose construction is now complete, is expected to be launched in May 2006. It is called the Jules Verne, in memory of the first science fiction writer of modern times. Contracts and accords have been signed for six more ATVs, which should be launched about once every year. EADS SPACE Transportation shall build these 6 ATVs in its Bremen facility, where the Jules-Verne has already been assembled, beginning in 2006.

To this end, RSC-Energia has signed a 40 million euro contract with one of the main subcontractors of EADS SPACE Transportation, the Italian company Alenia Spazio, to supply the Russian Docking System, refuelling system, and Russian Equipment Control System. Within the EADS SPACE Transportation led project, Alenia Spazio is in charge of the pressurized cargo carrier of the ATV. These pressurized cargo carriers are produced in Turin, Italy.

The HTV, an ATV analog

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA is currently working on a similar vehicle, the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) to resupply the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) on the ISS, as well as the rest of the station if need be. Unlike the ATV, the HTV would berth to Node 2 of the ISS.

ATV Evolution

The European Space Agency is studying potential evolutions and adaptations of the ATV, following the decision by NASA to retire the Space Shuttle around 2010.

Most of the studies are focused on the adaptation of the ATV in order to allow cargo return to Earth's surface.

A first study is called PARES (PAyload REtrieval System), and would include a small ballistic capsule similar to VBK-Raduga and embedded into the ATV docking interface, which would bring back a few tens of kg of payload. PARES could feature a deployable heat shield system. The European Space Agency is also proposing the system for use with the Progress spacecraft and the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

The CARV (Cargo Ascent and Return Vehicle) study is investigating a larger lifting capsule, capable of bringing back a few metric tonnes of payload, which could be installed in place of the ATV pressurized cargo hold.

Such vehicles could have been available by 2010. However, the financial situation of ESA leads to a priority given to PARES over the CARV.

Possibility of launch of the ATV on other launchers than Ariane 5 will also be investigated.

External links

fr:Automated Transfer Vehicle nl:Automated Transfer Vehicle pt:Veículo de Transferência Automatizado fi:ATV-huoltoalus


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