ATV-4: On duty at the International Space Station


Published on

Mission overview: The flight of ATV Albert Einstein 2013. Published by the Strategic Planning and Outreach Office of the ESA Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

ATV-4: On duty at the International Space Station

  1. 1. 1ATV Albert Einstein→ on duty at the International Space Station
  2. 2. 2European Space AgencyFrom the beginnings of the ‘space age’, Europe hasbeen actively involved in spaceflight. Today itlaunches satellites for Earth observation, navigation,telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes tothe far reaches of the Solar System, and cooperates inthe human exploration of space.Space is a key asset for Europe, providing essentialinformation needed by decision-makers to respond toglobal challenges. Space provides indispensabletechnologies and services, and increases ourunderstanding of our planet and the Universe. Since1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has beenshaping the development of this space capability.By pooling the resources of 20 Member States, ESAundertakes programmes and activities far beyond thescope of any single European country, developing thelaunchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed tokeep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.The Member States are: 18 states of the EU(Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom)plus Norway and Switzerland.Eight other EU states have Cooperation Agreementswith ESA: Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia,Lithuania, Malta and the Slovak Republic. Bulgaria isnegotiating a Cooperation Agreement. Canada takespart in some programmes under a CooperationAgreement.Compositecoverimage:ESA–K.Lochtenberg
  3. 3. 4 Mission overview The flight of ATV Albert Einstein10 SERVICING THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION A steady supply of cargo18 REACHING THE TARGET The path to the Station22 TEAM SPIRIT ATV ground support25 END OF MISSION Waste disposal26 WHAT NEXT? ATV Georges LemaÎtrePublished by the Strategic Planning andOutreach Office of the ESA Directorateof Human Spaceflight and Operations.ESTEC, PO Box 2992200 AG NoordwijkThe Netherlandsemail: hsocom@esa.intESA and the ESA logo are trademarks ofthe European Space Agency. Permission toreproduce or distribute material identified ascopyright of a third party must be obtainedfrom the copyright owner date: April 2013Copyright © 2013 European Space Agency
  4. 4. 4→ Mission overviewThe flight of ATV Albert EinsteinESA/NASA
  5. 5. 5One of the most reliable and complex spacecraft everbuilt in Europe is set for another trip to the InternationalSpace Station (ISS). Named after Albert Einstein, the fourthAutomated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4) contributes to keep the Stationand its permanent crew of six working at full capacity.ATV Albert Einstein will take off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou,French Guiana, on top of an Ariane 5 ES launcher in June 2013.The spacecraft plays a vital role in Station logistics: it serves as cargocarrier, storage facility and ‘space tug’. Just as its predecessors, theobjectives of this mission are to deliver 6.6 tonnes of cargo andmaintain the Station’s orbit for six months.ATV has the largest cargo capability of all vehicles that visit theInternational Space Station. The fourth in the series carries more drycargo than any ATV to date, increasing its contribution to the Station.It is loaded with 2380 kg of propellant to function as a space tug.ATV Albert Einstein’s reboosts help counteract atmospheric dragthat causes the Station to lose up to 100 m of altitude each day.ATV can even push the Station, to avoid space debris.It also provides attitude control when other spacecraft areapproaching the Station.As a space freighter, ATV carries 2700 kg of dry cargo such asscientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for theastronauts. It also delivers 100 kg of gas, more than 500 litres ofdrinking water and about 800 kg of propellant − all pumped intothe Station’s tanks.The Station’s needs change with every mission, and there are alwayslast-minute requests of every kind. A new Late Cargo Access Meanslift will be used to load larger and heavier bags during the lastweeks before launch. This allows for greater flexibility when ATV isalready on top of its Ariane 5 rocket.Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov will be the prime operatormonitoring ATV Albert Einstein as it approaches the Station.The 20-tonne vehicle is able to navigate on its own and dockautomatically with the Station.Once attached, ATV Albert Einstein is used as an extra module bythe astronauts on board. After around six months, it will undockfrom the Station filled with a few tonnes of waste water, materialsand equipment. ATV Albert Einsteins last journey will be a controlledand destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
  6. 6. 6A record breaker• Heaviest spacecraft ever launched by ESA• Heaviest spacecraft launched on an Ariane rocket• Can carry in total about three times thepayload of Russian cargo ships, and somewhatmore than the Japanese HTV• Most powerful reboost capability of anyspacecraft visiting the Station• Can dock automatically with the Station with aprecision of better than six centimetres• Most sophisticated flight software everdeveloped by ESAT +00:00:00LiftoffT + 00:02:18First stageseparationT + 00:03:29Jettisonof fairingT + 00:09:01Second stageseparationT + 01:06:39ATV separation00AltitudeSpeedkmkm/h618300kmkm/h10710 100kmkm/h13326 100kmkm/h27327 800kmkm/hDestination: International Space StationESA
  7. 7. Key dataLaunch site Kourou, French GuianaLaunch date 5 June 2013Launcher Ariane 5 ESDocking 2nd half of June 2013Undocking Autumn 2013ATV-4Diameter 4.5 mLength 9.8 mTotal vehicle mass 12 039 kgSolar arrays spanned 22.3 mAriane 5 ES launcherHeight 50.5 mDiameter 5.4 mLift-off mass 760 tonnesPayload mass after launch 19.8 tonnesNumber of missions 69th flight of Ariane 5As of April 2013. Exact launch and docking date may change.Rendezvous and dockingUp to two weeksAttached phaseSix monthsA 3D launchA 3D video will be produced of one of ATV AlbertEinstein most critical phases – the spacecraftseparation from its Ariane 5 rocket – a first fora European launch. A pair of cameras in stereoconfiguration are mounted under the fairing,to observe the spacecraft and the launch vehicleas never before. This 3D video will offer newperspectives to improve our understanding oflaunches.ESA–G.AnticoESA–I.Baroncini7
  8. 8. 8Albert Einstein goes to spaceAlbert Einstein’s paper The foundation of the generaltheory of Relativity predicted that light beams wouldbend around massive objects. The hypothesis was provenwhen British astronomer Arthur Eddington observedlight beams from distant stars bending as they passedour Sun during a solar eclipse in 1919.This was consideredconclusive proof that the theory was valid.Einstein’s contributions to science overturned ourperception of the Universe and his work is used to guidespacecraft. The scientist was born in 1879 in Germany,but studied and spent his early career in Switzerland,where he worked at the Patent Office in Bern. Here hedeveloped his revolutionary ideas and published fourfundamental scientific papers on the photoelectriceffect, Brownian motion, special relativity and themass–energy equivalence.With his theories of relativity and the two-way relationbetween matter and energy (E=mc2), Einstein is a majoricon of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel prizefor physics at the age of 42.ATV Albert Einstein also has strong ties with Switzerland:part of its structure and subsystems are built by Swissindustry, such as the racks, the late-access cargo lift,meteoroid debris protection and critical electronic units.Left: Albert Einstein lecturing in France in the 1920s.Right: First page of the manuscript The foundation of the general theory ofrelativity. (Albert Einstein Archives–Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  9. 9. Einstein’s contributions toscience overturned ourperception of the Universe.9
  11. 11. 11The large-capacity ATVs are essential for deliveringsupplies to the International Space Station. With a rateof one mission per year, the European spacecraft offersthe largest propulsive support of all vehicles visitingthe Station. ATV is Europe’s way of contributing to theoperational costs of building and maintaining the Station.The International Space Station is a shining exampleof global cooperation, uniting Europe, USA, Russia,Japan and Canada in one of the largest partnershipsin the history of science and engineering. This humanoutpost in Earth’s orbit is a stepping stone for furtherspace exploration.The endeavour has brought humanity together to liveand work in space uninterrupted for over a decade. The450-tonne complex is the size of a football field – enoughroomforthecrewandavastarrayofscientificexperiments.There is no single place on Earth where you can find sucha laboratory.The high-flying international laboratory is packed withsome of the most technologically sophisticated facilitiesto support a wide range of scientific enquiry in humanphysiology, biology, fundamental physics, fluid andmaterials sciences, Earth observation and space science.Did you know?• In clear skies around sunset or sunrise,the International Space Station can be seenfrom Earth with the naked eye.• The Station is larger than a conventionalfive-bedroom house, with two toilets, fitnessfacilities and a 360-degree bay window calledCupola.• Its in-orbit construction began in 1998.It has been occupied permanently since 2000.No other space station has been inhabitedfor longer.• The clock on the Station ticks about0.0000000014% slower than an earthboundclock because of relativity, an effect predictedby Albert Einstein.• More than 130 spaceflights and 170spacewalks were conducted to build andmaintain the Station.• Unmanned vehicles are used to haul suppliesto the Space Station: the European ATV, Russia’sProgress vehicles, Japan’s HTV Transfer Vehicle,the US Dragon and soon to be joined by theCygnus commercial spacecraft.This human outpost inEarth orbit is a steppingstone for further spaceexploration.
  12. 12. GPS antennasMicrometeoroid and orbitaldebris protection system8 payload racks tostore equipmentStartrackerDocking systemESA–I.Baroncini
  13. 13. 4 main engine nozzles28 attitude control andbraking thrustersSolar arraysAvionics equipmentPropellant tanksWater and gas tanksATV sections1 Integrated Cargo Carrier Carries the entire resupply payload to the Station.It can deliver dry and fluid cargo up to nearly7 tonnes.2 Avionics Module Accommodates the ‘brain’ of ATV critical itemssuch as its computers, gyroscopes, navigationand control systems, as well as power distributionand communications equipment.3 Propulsion Module Reboosts and manoeuvres the Station toavoid potential collisions with space debris. Itsthrusters not only guide the spacecraft to theStation, but also when it departs at the end ofthe mission.13
  14. 14. 14Rocketed into space• 4th launchon an Ariane 5 ES rocket• Ariane 5 is 52 metrestall, equal to a 15-storey building• When Ariane 5 lifts off the launch pad, it weighs over760 tonnes, equal to around 500 cars• Ariane 5 takes ATV into a 260 km circular orbit,20 times higher than a passenger aircraft’s cruising altitude• Albert Einstein himself could have fitted around100 timesinto ATV’s pressurised moduleCosmic automation• A startracker combined with a GPS receiver is the modernequivalent of centuries-old navigation techniques• ATV docks with the Space Station by hitting a target60 cmwide with a precision of 6 cm while circling the Earthat a speed of 28 000 km/hat an altitude of around400 km• Two astronauts monitor ATV as it approaches the Station• ATV can operate with 4800 Wgenerated by its foursolar wings, equivalent to the electricity used by a typicalwater-heaterLift the Station• The International Space Station loses altitude by50– 100 meach day• ATV Johannes Kepler holds the record for the largest spaceboost since the Apollo missions to the Moon:40 kmin one go• Propulsion combo. ATV has 32 thrusters: 4main engines and 28 attitude control and braking thrusters24-hour support centre• The ATV Control Centre is operated by a dedicated team of 60 people↑ Engineers test ATV Albert Einstein’s docking systemin Kourou, French Guiana↑ Ariane 5 launch with ATV Edoardo Amaldi lifted off fromEuropes Spaceport in French Guiana↑ Station with ATV Johannes Kepler seenfrom Space Shuttle Discovery in 2011ESA/CNES/Arianespace–OptiqueVideoduCSGESA–S.CorvajaESA/NASA
  15. 15. 15How does it benefit the Space Station?The450-tonneorbitingcomplexreliesonregularsuppliesto be fully operational. Since the American Space Shuttleretired in 2011 ATV has to deal with more dry cargo andlast-minute requests. New payloads, research equipmentand spare parts are on the shipping list.All dry cargo, including food, experiments, tools andclothing, is packed into special bags with barcodes.The labelling makes it easy for crew to unpack the cargoin space and also makes it easier for the planners onEarth to keep track of the various items on the Station.ATV’s tanks are filled with drinking water and gas forthe astronauts (oxygen, nitrogen and air, depending onthe Station’s needs). The crew can carry out severaltransfers of gas while ATV Albert Einstein is attached,releasing it into the Station’s atmosphere.Storage tanks also carry ‘technical water’ forthe operation of the Station systems. ATV canfill the Russian tanks with fuel to support propulsionmanoeuvres.A heavy loadLast-minute cargoEurope’s space freighter is upgraded every mission tobe more flexible and adapt its cargo to the Station’sneeds. ATV Albert Einstein improves its late cargoloading capability with a new Late Cargo Access Means,a special lift with a rotating platform. A new arm iscapableofloadingcargobagsupto75kg,threetimesmorethan was possible with the previous late access device.The new platform allows each corner inside thepressurised module to be reached even after ATV is onits launcher. There is more room for last-minute items.The last packages can be loaded a few weeksbefore launch, including the crew care packages preparedfor the astronauts by their families with personal gifts.↑ NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Scott Kellyin 2011 unpacking crew care packages fromATV Johannes Kepler↓ The cargo team makes sure that each bag is stowed asefficiently and securely as possibleESA–K.MacDonnellESA/NASAFluid cargo3910 kgTotal cargo6607 kgDry cargo2697 kgPropulsive support 2380 kgRefuelling propellant 860 kgWater 570 kgGas 100 kgMain dry cargo 1412 kgLate load dry cargo 1285 kg
  16. 16. 16An immaculate ATVFrom the moment astronauts enter the spacecraftin orbit, ATV becomes a manned module. FollowingSpace Station contamination requirements, a thoroughdisinfection of the pressurised module takes placeprior launch.Bacteria and fungi, mainly from human andenvironmental origin, are unwanted passengerson ATV Albert Einstein. In the Station’s humidatmosphere, microorganisms can easily prosper,leading to potential problems not only for the crew,but also for hardware on board. In the Mir station,for example, fungi colonised circuits, creating electricalshorts and endangering the crew.ESA’s disinfection team cordon off an area of5–10 metres around ATV Albert Einstein’s pressurisedmodule. Dressed in sterilised white coats and armedwith wipes and cotton swabs, the team disinfectsATV Albert Einstein before and after cargo is uploaded.Disinfection and sampling are carried out not onlyinside the pressurised module, but also for everysingle item placed in ATV. In a laboratory, scientistsassess the cleanliness – they analyse samples and lookfor remaining microbial contamination through DNAanalysis. Air toxicity is checked to ensure astronautsbreathe clean air when they open the hatch to ATV forthe first time. Samples of air are analysed to confirm thatno harmful chemicals were released in the atmosphere.The quality of around 560 litres of water from a springin Italy is also carefully monitored.After disinfection ATV Albert Einstein is left as close to sterileas possible. Hardly any microorganisms remain − the goalis to maintain a living environment with high levels ofcleanliness. The whole process has synergies with hospitalsand the pharmaceutical industry.More living spaceAlthoughnoonetravelsinATVAlbertEinstein,astronautsin regular clothing can access the pressurised part whendocked. During the six months ATV Albert Einstein willspend docked to the Station, it will act as a temporaryhabitable module, providing 45 m³ of extra crew workingquarters on the orbiting outpost. On previous missions,ATV was welcomed by the astronauts as the quietestplace in the Station’ and was often a favourite placeto work.Sampling ATV Albert Einstein contamination levels
  17. 17. 17More space, more scienceATV Albert Einstein holds many useful items for the sake of science.Two ESA experiments that will receive valuable supplies are:EnergyFood and urine collection kits will bedelivered for this experiment, whichstudies how a negative energy balanceobserved during spaceflight couldaffect physiological functions. Data willcontribute to planning adequate, but notexcessive cargo supplies for food.Materials Science LaboratoryThis European facility allows the crew toheat and cool materials in microgravity.ATV will deliver a Sample CartridgeAssembly containing an aluminium alloythat will be subjected to temperaturesof around 900°C. Back on Earth,scientists will analyse the samplesand look at industrial applicationsof this alloy.ESA
  18. 18. 18The large freighter closes in on the Space Station in astep-by-step approach, going through more missionphases than most other spacecraft. With its own flightcontrol and propulsion systems, ATV Albert Einsteinmanoeuvres autonomously during critical operations.Ifneeded,thevehiclecanalsostayinfree-flightforuptothree weeks.The flight-dynamics team at the ATV Control Centre(ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France, constantly checks spacesurveillance networks that track space debris. Ifany object risks hitting ATV Albert Einstein, a newATV Albert Einstein docks with the Space Station in a fully automated mode. Thespacecraft is required to hit a target as small as a car wheel while both the ATV andthe Station orbit Earth at about 28 000 km/h.→ REACHING THE TARGETThe path to the Stationtrajectory is calculated automatically. During thefree-flying phase, solar flares will not affect the robustsoftware of the space vessel.Automated Transfer Vehicles are very safe by design,and from an operational point of view. At least threesafeguards ensure Station safety and its crew at alltimes. If any last-minute problems prevent thespacecraft from docking, its approach can be stoppedby ATV’s computer, ground controllers or the astronautson the Space Station.ESA/NASA
  19. 19. ↑ ATV uses four optical sensors over the final 250 mprior to docking with the Station↑ The plastic ‘range ruler’ in this photo is used to assessthe distance of ATV from the Station during docking↑ Thumbs up! Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and ESAastronaut André Kuipers celebrate the successfuldocking of ATV Edoardo Amaldi↑ ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli removes the dockingmechanism to access the ATV Johannes Kepler hatchESA/NASAESA/NASAESA/NASAESA/NASA19
  20. 20. 20ATV critical mission phasesA matter of propulsionATV has the most complex propulsion system everdesigned by Europe and flown in space. Its thrusters notonly guide the spacecraft to the Space Station, but alsopush it away from the Station at the end of its mission.Once attached, the European vessel can performattitude control and orbital reboosts for the Station,as well as enable manoeuvres to avoid potentialcollisions with space debris.Maintaining the Station’s orbit is particularly vitalduring an expected period of high solar activity in 2013.Earth’s atmosphere becomes more dense causing largerdrag on the International Space Station that ATV AlbertEinstein can compensate by pushing it into higher orbits.ATV’s propulsion system operates almost automatically,and some of its engines are used during the entiremission. It has a dry mass of 1.5 tonnes, consisting of32 thrusters, 68 electric valves, 84 pressure sensors andnearly 200 temperature sensors and heaters.Fueling ATV Albert Einstein’s engines requires a largeamount of propellant – its main payload is more thanthree tonnes of fuel in different forms. Of all the vesselsthat deliver cargo to the Station, ATV can supply thelargest quantity of fuel.LaunchThe 760-tonne Ariane 5 launchertakesofffromKourou,FrenchGuiana.The launch window is 15 days.Separation from launcherAbout one hour after launch, ATVAlbert Einstein separates fromthe upper stage of the rocket.A high-precision navigation systemguides the spacecraft on arendezvous with the Space Station.Free-flying phaseWhile a startracker identifiesconstellations in the sky to calculatethe vessel’s orientation, a GPSreceiver allows it to calculate itsposition. The free-flight phase lastsa few days.ESA–S.Corvaja
  21. 21. 21PropellantsPropulsive support (2380 kg) for:• Attitude control• Maintaining the Station’s orbit• Debris avoidance manoeuvresRefuelling propellant (860 kg) to restock theStation’s reserves, allowing it to perform its ownattitude control and reboost when no visitingvehicle is available. This fuel is transferred to theZarya module.Pre-homingA precise sequence of engine burnstakes ATV Albert Einstein to a holdpoint some 30 km from the SpaceStation, from where the spacecraftaligns itself and continues tothe Station.ClosingDuring the last 250 m, ATV’s state-of-the-art automatic rendezvoussystem employs its videometer’seye-like sensors to calculatedistance, velocity and attituderelative to the docking port on theRussian Zvezda module.Rendezvous and dockingThe20-tonneferrymanoeuvresitselfand docks with the InternationalSpace Station in roughly three and ahalf hours with a precision of betterthan 6 cm.
  22. 22. 22→ TEAM SPIRITJust two months after the end of the ATV EdoardoAmaldi mission, staff at ATV-CC started to get readyto operate a new spacecraft. The control centre islocated on the premises of the French space agencyCNES in Toulouse, France. It is responsible for directingin-flight operations and coordinating ground resources.Many people from ESA and European industry work onATV, with EADS Astrium being the prime contractor forthe production of the vehicle.ATV ground supportATV navigates, flies and docks with the Station automatically, but it does requiressome ground support. Throughout its mission, ATV Albert Einstein is monitored andcommanded from the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC), which works day and night in closecoordination with the other control centres in Russia and the US.Launch siteKourou, French GuianaNASA Mission Control CenterHouston, United StatesATV Control CentreToulouse, FranceRussian Mission Control CentreKorolev, Russia During an ATV flight – from launch to docking, andfrom undocking to reentry – a dedicated 60-personteam works together to control all procedures. Over5000 commands can be sent to ATV which, in turn, cantransmit up to 35 000 telemetry parameters. Such a flowof information requires multiple telecommunicationssystems and constant communication between ATV-CC,the mission control centres in Houston and Moscow,and the International Space Station itself.
  23. 23. 23ATV is the only vehicle to visit theInternational Space Station that is trulyoperated trilaterally. Coordinating this is noteasy, but it is something unique in regards tothe Space Station and an honour for all of us.With complex projects like ATV, youautomatically build a strong team culturebeyond borders. I am continuously amazedat how motivated this team is.Alberto Novelli, ATV-4 Mission ManagerThe ATV project has allowed us to developcommon approaches to design, build andcontrol this complex space vehicle. Thepriceless experience of close cooperationbetween different engineering cultures andteams proves the feasibility of joint advancedprojects on human space exploration.Vladimir DaneevATV Programme Manager, RSC-EnergiaThe trilateral nature of this vehicle − three different agencies,three different cultural backgrounds − makes you look at issuesfrom three independent angles. You learn to lose preconceptions,and at the same time you are given more options for alternativesolutions. It keeps you open-minded.Jerry Jason, ATV-4 NASA Lead Flight DirectorESA/CNES–S.Girard
  24. 24. 24As a biologist, I was very impressedthe first time I saw ATV in thecleanroom. The nice atmosphere in theteam makes the launch campaigns apleasure. Our opinion as experts isalways taken into consideration.Stephanie RaffestinMicrobiologistWe assure that all ATV systems perform as intended,ensuring a successful mission. We get to know everypiece of the spacecraft. I love seeing ATV grow fromnothing and flying to space as the complex vehicle it is.When it comes to finding a solution, it is a teamcollaboration involving experts not only from ESA butEuropean industry and Space Station partners.Sonia FerrerProduct Assurance and Safety engineerI have been involved in the ATV project for years.ATV is part of me, I cannot switch off. Our teamis the first to deal with problems and look forsolutions. We work by the book, double-checkingevery procedure. The pressure is higher when thespacecraft is on its way to space − any anomalyhas to be fixed quickly.Eric Joseph-GabrielAvionics Integrated Verification engineerThere is something special about the ATV team.When I first joined, someone told me ‘This isthe best team I ever worked with’, and I cansay now that it was not a cliché. There is a greatsense of cooperation, and it is very rewarding tobe directly involved with the Space Stationpartners, collaborating on this wonderfuladventure together.Adam WilliamsOperations Training and Simulation managerESA/NASA
  25. 25. 25→ END OF MISSIONWhile attached to the Station, astronauts graduallyremove cargo from ATV and fill it with liquid and drywaste and to clear space in the Station. Once all thecargo is transferred and the reboosts are completed,ATV Albert Einstein is ready to leave.The return flight starts by ‘waking up’ ATV avionics andflight-control systems. After the crew seals the hatches,power and data cables are disconnected and a ground-to-space command is sent to undock ATV Albert Einstein.A thruster-burn pushes ATV Albert Einstein back andaway from the Station. In about 24 hours its enginesdeorbit the spacecraft on a steep flight-path to breakapart and burn up harmlessly over an uninhabited areaof the southern Pacific Ocean.Waste disposalATV Albert Einstein remains a pressurised part of the International SpaceStation for up to six months. Once its resupply mission is complete,the European vehicle leaves with up to six tonnes of Station waste.ATV Albert Einstein’s last journey will be a controlled and destructive reentry intoEarth’s atmosphere in Autumn 2013.ESA–D.Ducros
  26. 26. → what next?ATV Georges LemaîtreThe last spacecraft in ESA’s family ofAutomated Transfer Vehicles is namedafter the Belgian astronomer andcosmologist Georges Lemaître.He discovered a family of solutions toEinstein’s relativity equations describingan expanding Universe rather thana static one, and provided a firstobservational estimation of the Hubbleconstant. His theory later became betterknown as the Big Bang theory.ATV Georges Lemaître, set to fly in 2014, could helpdevelop tools for a rendezvous with a non-cooperativeobject such as space debris or an asteroid. Thespacecraft may serve as a testbed for a suite of optical-sensor prototypes to home in on targets, based ona long-range infrared camera and a short-range3D imaging sensor.A Belgian geniusand the beginning of timeWhen Georges Lemaître was born in 1894in Charleroi, Belgium, most scientists thoughtthat the Universe was infinite in ageand constant in its general appearance.The astronomer, professor of physics andCatholic priest suggested that the worldhad a definite beginning in which all matterand energy were concentrated in one point.The theory of the Big Bang was born.Georges Lemaître continued to advancescience throughout his life. He studiedcosmic rays and worked on the three-bodyproblem concerning the motion of threemutually-attracted bodies in space. He diedin Louvain, Belgium, in 1966, at the age of 71.5KatholiekeUniversiteitLeuven26
  27. 27. Looking to the futureESA–S.CorvajaESA–D.DucrosESAs service moduleNASAs Orion spacecraftATV will have a second life after it completes itsresupply role to the International Space Station.ESA is studying ways of developing its successor,an ATV-derived service module to support NASA’sconcept Orion spacecraft. This vehicle will carryastronauts further into space than ever before.Providing this service module will be ESA’sremaining contribution to the Space Stationpartnership. Through this in-kind contribution,ESA opens a new page of internationalcooperation for human exploration beyond orbitin the coming decades.This will be the first collaboration between ESAand NASA on a crew transportation vehicle. Thespacecraft will build on the heritage of ATV-derived technology, capitalising on Europe’sdemonstrated reliability as a space programmepartner. The project will create highly skilled jobsin an innovative sector ensuring future spaceendeavours.27
  28. 28. 28An ESA Human Spaceflight and Operations productionCopyright © 2013 European Space AgencyCONTACTeSA/eStecCommunication office+31 71 565