The European Space Agency cargo ship Georges Lemaître, the last automated transfer vehicle, docked safely at the International Space Station Aug. 12, 2014. Credit: NASA/Twitter

Europe’s Last ATV Cargo Ship Docks Safely At Space Station

12 Aug , 2014 by

It took two weeks to get there, but all indications is it was worth the wait. The final automated transfer vehicle of the European Space Agency successfully docked with the International Space Station today (Aug. 12) at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1:30 p.m. UTC) — right on time.

The cargo vehicle has about seven tons of stuff on board, ranging from science experiments to fresh food. The astronauts always enjoy it when fruit and other new food arrives in these shipments, given so many of their meals are freeze-dried.

Also on board was a new rendezvous system manufactured by Canadian company Neptec, which is testing out new ways of docking for future cargo vehicles. And when it’s time for Georges Lemaître to leave the station around January 2015, sensors inside will monitor its planned destruction to make future cargo vehicles better equipped to survive re-entry.

Georges Lemaître left Earth July 29 from French Guiana, as did its four predecessors. The series of ATVs started in March 2008 when Jules Verne departed to resupply the Expedition 16 crew. The other vehicles were called Johannes Kepler, Edoardo Amaldi and Albert Einstein.

The new vehicle will be opened up on Wednesday. It will be a busy week for cargo vehicles at the station, as the privately constructed Cygnus spacecraft (from Orbital Sciences) is expected to leave the station on Friday at 6:40 a.m. EDT (10:40 a.m. UTC). Both Alexander Gerst (ESA) and Reid Wiseman (NASA) will release Cygnus using Canadarm2, a robotic arm on station.

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FarAwayLongAgo
Member
FarAwayLongAgo
August 12, 2014 12:22 PM
The ATV has been a horrible malinvestment which has cost about 4 billion dollar. $1,800mn development costs. $300mn each manufacturing costs. $120mn each launch cost. As much as 2 Rosetta missions or 4 Gaia space telescopes. Just to partly supply 6 astronauts in LEO five times during a few years. The ISS doesn’t relate either to astronomy nor to space flight (as in going somewhere instead of circling Earth only 3% of an Earth diameter above sea level). Its costs should be taken from medical and materials research budgets or whatever instead of from the space agencies. If we had had a space station which simulated a space ship with artificial gravity and full recycling, then it had… Read more »
akgunkel
Member
akgunkel
August 12, 2014 5:33 PM
ATV is the largest cargo craft currently servicing the ISS. The ATV hardware is going to be reused for the Orion service module and there are a number of other evolution proposals, including a crewed vehicle and one which would allow the ESA to stand up their own (small) space station. While this doesn’t negate your points about the expense of ATV, it’s not a dead end investment and the hardware has uses beyond just the 5 supply runs to the ISS. Regarding your complaints about the practicality of the ISS usage: A manned space station is not an ideal platform for astronomy but the ISS was used as a platform for the AMS-02 (to study cosmic rays… Read more »
crash68
Member
crash68
August 12, 2014 11:15 PM
Most of spaceflight is not about astronomy – and human spaceflight especially not. Personally I would like to see more astronomy missions though. One interesting exercise for ATV is to compare the cost/kg or cost/m^3 for the different resupply vehicles to the ISS. Warning: reliable cost estimates are hard to find, especially when development costs should be taken into account. When I searched the web for numbers a few months ago I came up with 1.35 G$ development cost, 300 M$ production cost and 150 M$ launch cost for the ATV. These numbers are close to yours, but not identical. Which numbers to use will always lead to discussions. Also keep in mind that different vehicles have different… Read more »
kankan
Member
kankan
August 12, 2014 1:09 PM

Don’t you mean Latest not Last cargo ship?

FarAwayLongAgo
Member
FarAwayLongAgo
August 12, 2014 1:25 PM

They only built 5 ATV. They have all done their thing now.
(Does your name Kankan refer to the city Kankan?)

Manu
Member
Manu
August 12, 2014 3:12 PM

“to make future cargo vehicles better equipped to survive re-entry”: no. To help make sure large piece DO NOT survive re-entry.

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