Automated Transfer Vehicle
While not attached permanently to the ISS, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is nonetheless a vital element of the station. The fully automatic 20-tonne freighter ferries up to 9 tonnes of supplies to the ISS and also serves as a space tug, using its own propulsion system to correct the station’s altitude and orbit. ATV module is launched onboard an Ariane5 rocket.
The system has two main elements:
1/ A propulsion and piloting module enabling the vehicle to reach the Space Station automatically once detached into orbit from the launcher;
2/ An integrated cargo carrier (ICC) enabling supplies and materials to be transported between Earth and the Space Station, up to a maximum useful load of 7,300 kg
In the course of its mission to the International Space Station, the ATV will serve not only as a ‘container’ for the transportation of equipment and goods, but it will also fulfil a fundamental role as a propulsion module for the orbiting structure itself. The ATV’s engines will also be used to reposition the ISS several times along its mission.
After completing its supply mission – up to 860 kg of propellant, 840 kg of water, 100 kg of air and 5,500 kg of dry cargo – the ATV Jules Vernes carried away the Station’s waste. The ATV is eliminated by destructive re-entry into the atmosphere.
Thales Alenia Space has played an essential role in the production of the ATV:
- Design and production of the ICC that includes the Water and Gas distribution systems as well as the provision of drinkable water according to US and Russian standards, the vehicle passive thermal protection system, the power-control unit and support for the integrated system tests. The company will participate in the final assembly and tests phase of the whole system in Europe and Kourou;
- Active participation in the operation stage of the mission both in the preparation and the in-orbit phases;
- Responsible for the development and the production of the Solar Array Drive Sub System, transferring the energy generated by the solar panels to the power system of ATV service module and allowing an optimal alignment of satellite's solar panels towards the sun;
- Supply of a four-unit PCU (Power Conditioning Units), like the one made for the ATV Jules Verne, to provide power to certain units of the ATV;
- Provision of the overall ATV’s Telemetry Tracking and Control (TT&C) communication equipments via NASA’s TDRSS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System);
- Contribution to perform ATV’s rendezvous and docking maneuvers providing the proximity link communications equipment between the ATV and the ISS.
Thales Alenia Space is in charge of the design and construction of the “cargo carrier”, the pressurized compartment for crew operation and cargo transfer, for the prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation, and also the integration and testing of the complete ATV-ICC.
Thales Alenia Space is being involved in the Mission s preparation and Operation support