ATV ‘Johannes Kepler’ Launch to Space Station Delayed to Wednesday

by Nancy Atkinson on February 15, 2011

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The European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) “Johannes Kepler” launch that was scheduled for Tuesday Feb. 15 was scrubbed due to a technical issue on the launch pad, and the slip could affect which day space shuttle Discovery launches for STS-133. Technicians at Launch Complex 3 in Kourou, French Guiana are looking at the problem, but preliminary details indicate some erroneous data on the status of the tank levels for fuel on the Ariane 5 rocket. They will go over the data carefully and if everything looks good they try again on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

This launch slip could change the launch date for STS-133, which is now scheduled for Feb. 24. If the ATV does launch on Wednesday (or on Thursday or Friday of this week), the launch of STS-133 will move to Feb. 25. But if the ATV launch slips beyond Friday means that the STS-133 launch stays on Feb. 24.

You can watch the launch attempt on Wednesday on NASA TV, and coverage will begin at 4:15 EST (21:15 GMT), with launch time at 4:50 pm EST (21:50 GMT). This is second launch of an ATV, and the 200th Ariane 5 launch.

In the meantime, find out more about the building of the ATV in this great video from ESA.

This second ATV is named for German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. It will carry 2690 kg (5,929 lbs) of cargo in its pressurized cabin, and also 99 kg (220 lbs) of oxygen for breathing and 850 kg (1,875 lbs) of rocket propellant for the space station’s Zvezda service module.

At about 4 and a half minutes before the scheduled launch, an indicator went “red,” meaning there was a problem. After the launch was officially scrubbed, Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace spoke, and through a translator said, “Well as you have seen during the final countdown one of the lights went red. Since we had no launch window, there will be no other attempt. From what I was told, there was an erroneous piece of data coming from the filling of the launcher. Our teams are already working on that to see what is happening and to try another attempt tomorrow. I’m sorry, but you know this is a difficult exercise and it doesn’t work 100 percent of the time.”

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua February 15, 2011 at 2:56 PM

If at first you don’t succeed… spend the rest of the money? It’s totally a waste of time to burn that beautiful ship up after one use as far as I’m concerned. I’ve mentioned this before and must sound stale repeating the idea? WHY NOT use it as a component of a LUNAR Space Station? Why not park it nearby then attach a Japanese ATV and a couple Russian Progress modules, join em together fuel em up and GO FOR IT! Then BRING one of the shuttle tanks to the ISS to refit and use as a space HOTEL! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Lets go!

Aqua February 15, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Sorry about shouting… that’s my head cold talking~

TerryG February 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

ESA is mulling over modifications to the ATV making it capable of reentry to Earth’s atmosphere. Next would be turning it into a crew capsule.
But there are Lunar science projects to look forward to. NASA’s GRAIL mission isn’t too far from being launched and then Astrobot, Google X-prise and Space-X have announce a joint lunar mission with a F9 by 2013.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb February 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Oh dear. If you haven’t got the money, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you can’t make any of your dreams a reality.
What will happen if you start defaulting on your loans?
Why would you go to the Moon if your children are really going to start staving to death?
Also why be so negative, when module is being produced by the European ESA and not America? Oh, I know. If it is not American, then it must be a waste of time. Really. Who would want to co-operate with a country with such narrow-minded attitudes?
Change you mind set. Space is big enough for all comers, where international co-operation is the new hot ticket! Embarrassing it might be, but it is the way of the future.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb February 16, 2011 at 12:24 AM

Thanks for the international space story, showing cooperation between many space agencies.

However, the 200th Ariane 5 launch is not correct? Arianespace has been around since 1980, and the first successful launch of the Ariane 5 was in 1998, and there has been 55 missions, with 4 failures, making 51 successful launches 935 successful ones in a row!). This system will still be using this rocket system 2015-16.

All the Arianespace milestones are at; http://www.arianespace.com/about-us/milestones.asp

It is actual mission number are flight numbers, including the test vehicles. This mission is V-200 (Serial number is 544). The Ariane 5 configuration is 5ES.

More exciting is the new Vega launcher for light-weight payloads, which is the first expected in 2011.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb February 16, 2011 at 12:29 AM

Oh. A lovely coloured pdf brochure for 2011 appears on the Arianespace site;

See http://www.arianespace.com/about-us-corporate-information/CorporateBrochure_2011_en.pdf

Nancy Atkinson February 16, 2011 at 11:57 AM

My mistake. It is the 200th launch of the entire Ariane rocket family.

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