Astrium has now spent more than three years preparing Ariane 5 for the ATV launch to the International Space Station. In contrast with a “standard” geostationary satellites launch mission, Ariane will be required to place the 19.5 tonnes of the Jules Verne module into a circular, as opposed to elliptical, transfer orbit. To achieve this, the Aestus engine of the EPS upper stage, which normally burns for only one powered flight phase, will be ignited three times.
The launcher preparation programme has not only involved validating the ability of the Aestus engine and EPS stage to carry out a totally new mission (nearly 200 ignition sequences were executed at Lampoldshausen under hot conditions over a broad temperature domain to ground qualify the Aestus engine), but has also led to development of a dedicated VEB, development of totally dedicated software and an exhaustive campaign to confirm the capability of the lower stages to carry an exceptional load in flight. It should be noted that, while lift-off mass of the payloads normally carried by Ariane is of the order of 8 to 10 tonnes, the ATV mission requires the launcher to place 20 tonnes into orbit!
Successful re-ignition of the Aestus engine was operated for the first time under actual flight conditions representative of the ATV mission during the Ariane 5 flight of October 5, 2007.
Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2006, Astrium had a turnover of €3.2 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Astrium Services for the development and delivery of satellite services.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2006, EADS generated revenues of €39.4 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.
Jeremy Close (Astrium UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872
Mathias Pikelj (Astrium GER) Phone: +49 (0) 7545 8 91 23
Francisco Lechon (Astrium ESP) Phone: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41