Feeds

Twenty-tonne space truck poised for ISS trip

'Heaviest payload ever launched by Europe'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.