Feeds

Twenty-tonne space truck poised for ISS trip

'Heaviest payload ever launched by Europe'

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The European Space Agency's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is poised for lift-off at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, and if its 20-tonne bulk makes it off the pad on 15 February, it'll be "the heaviest payload ever launched by Europe".

The Johannes Kepler, named in honour of the German astronomer and mathematician, is packed with a 7-tonne payload, comprising "4,534kg of propellant for International Space Station reboost and attitude control", "1,600kg of dry cargo, 850kg of propellant for Russia’s Zvezda module and 100kg of oxygen".

Artist's impression of the ATV creeping up on the ISS. Pic: ESA - D. Ducros

The ATV is Europe's first operational space van, following the qualification flight of the Jules Verne back in 2008. To ensure a successful mating with the ISS, it boasts "high-precision navigation systems, highly redundant flight software and a fully autonomous collision-avoidance system with its own independent power supplies, control and thrusters".

Once docked, the Johannes Kepler will spend three-and-a-half months at the ISS, during which it'll use its own thrusters, fuelled by the aforementioned reboost and attitude control propellant, to "raise the Station’s orbit periodically in order to compensate for the natural decay caused by atmospheric drag".

If necessary, it'll also perform the useful task of shifting the ISS out of the way of space debris.

Cutaway view of the Johannes Kepler. Pic: ESA - D. Ducros

Before departing the orbiting outpost in June, the Johannes Kepler will be filled with "waste bags" and redundant hardware ahead of a de-orbit and re-entry burn-up over the Pacific.

The ATV's launch atop an Ariane 5 is scheduled for 22:08 GMT on 15 February. The ESA has more on the mission here, and details of the live lift-off broadcast here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.