View Full Version : Europe's New Spaceship


ArneHD
Feb 03, 2008, 06:08 AM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7217726.stm


Space cargo ship near completion
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News

Fuelling suits for ATV (Esa/Cnes/Arianespace)
The last fuelling procedure begins on Friday morning
The launch and docking windows for the ATV, Europe's huge new space-station resupply ship, have been set.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will be lofted in the 22 February to 8-9 March timeframe, European Space Agency (Esa) officials say.

The 20-tonne vessel will then attach itself to the international outpost during one of two windows; in early March, or in late March to early April.

ATV is the biggest, most sophisticated spacecraft Europe has attempted to fly.

Its preparation at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana is very nearly complete.

This Friday, engineers will start the final stage of fuelling, adding 2.7 tonnes of oxidiser to the ship's propellant system.

Once this is done, and major headway has been made on the final 200 or so items on an "open work list", the ATV will be moved out of Kourou's giant S5 integration halls and taken to the Baf (Final Assembly Building) where it will be mated with its Ariane 5 launcher.

"We are on schedule," said Nicolas Chamussy, ATV programme manager for prime contractor EADS Astrium.

"Since October, we have lost just three days in the planning. We have some 200 actions still to do, but these are normal; I don't see major issues," he told BBC News.

Last week, at a general designers' review in Moscow, the Russians (one of the major partners in the space station project) gave their formal approval for the mission to proceed. A similar meeting will be held in the US this week at which the Americans are also expected to sign off ATV.

A gathering of space agency officials on 6 February will then begin the process of narrowing the launch window to a specific date. Much will depend on what happens to the shuttle Atlantis.

It is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station on 7 February. If it is held on the ground because of bad weather or further technical problems, the ATV launch date may start to creep to the back of its window.

But when ATV lifts off is probably not so important as when it arrives. It cannot dock when the shuttle is present or in flight - not least because the two vehicles both make use of the US Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

"We have built ATV to be almost independent of a lot of the other operations," explained John Ellwood, Esa's ATV mission manager.

"We then go to the space station and we have the option of immediately docking if conditions are right or we could loiter. We have a strategy where we go to a point 2,000km in front of the space station and just wait there."

The best times to dock are 15-19 March and 30 March to 5 April. These are periods when the station's alignment to the Sun will give astronauts a clear view of the ATV's approach; cameras will not be blinded by bright light.

Once attached, the ATV - dubbed Jules Verne for its first flight - will stay on-station until August, after which it will be commanded to undock and ditch itself in the Pacific.

Preparation work on the second ATV, likely to fly in 2010, has already begun.

Perhaps this can replace the space shuttle? Or will it simply augment it?

dutchfire
Feb 03, 2008, 07:19 AM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7217726.stm



Perhaps this can replace the space shuttle? Or will it simply augment it?

Well, I guess the main issue with this spacecraft is that it can only be used once. The next one will likely fly in 2010, according to the article, so that's one spacecraft every two years, that's probably not enough. So I think it will augment it.

Synsensa
Feb 03, 2008, 08:09 AM
It's sort of useless that they spend years and a load of materials to make one ship, dock it for a couple months, and then just dump it in the ocean...

Perhaps NASA and all those other space program companies should find a way to actually make landing possible and safe?

Abaddon
Feb 03, 2008, 08:25 AM
A resuable craft, aswell as more efficient take offs are the most important things we need to overcome to really get into space.

Strider
Feb 03, 2008, 11:02 AM
It will most likely be used to augment the Orion spacecrafts. Remember that the Space Shuttles are all being retired within the next decade (2014?).

mdwh
Feb 03, 2008, 11:35 AM
It will most likely be used to augment the Orion spacecrafts. Remember that the Space Shuttles are all being retired within the next decade (2014?).According to Wikipedia, they will be retired in 2010. And the new Orion takes over in 2014. So yes, that's 4 years without manned spaceflight capability for the US.

Genocidicbunny
Feb 03, 2008, 11:59 AM
The US already had a year or two where it lacked manned space flight ability and had to use Russia to get to the ISS.

I doubt it will be the end of the world if the US lacks the ability for another 4 years.

Falcon02
Feb 04, 2008, 02:11 PM
The ATV is not designed for manned spaceflight, it is only intended as a cargo ship for now, to bring supplies and new experiements to ISS at a relatively cheap price.

Now whether or not a Manned adaptation of the ATV is in the future, I don't know. But as for manned spaceflight for now Shuttle and Soyuz (and techincally Shenzhou) are the only tickets to space. At least until Orion comes around.

Masquerouge
Feb 04, 2008, 05:09 PM
I just browsed Orion's Wiki page... is it me, or does it look just like the Appolo crafts?

Strider
Feb 04, 2008, 05:14 PM
I just browsed Orion's Wiki page... is it me, or does it look just like the Appolo crafts?

It would make sense. The Orion crafts are made to make it to the moon (like the Apollo's did). The current shuttles can not make it to the moon.

Falcon02
Feb 04, 2008, 05:36 PM
The Shuttle is too massive for it's own good for the most part.

It's got a large payload bay which is good for servicing missions and building a space station (This was really the Shuttle's primary design purpose). However it's not that good for just getting people into space. That payload bay is extra weight you may not need/want to bring up every time you're just swapping crews with the ISS, or you're going to the Moon.

A Capsule (ie. Apollo, Orion, Soyuz) is more modular, it's primarily designed for getting people into space, around space, and back. It's heat shield is MUCH smaller then the Shuttles, and easier to maintain. It's also easier to keep protected during launch, instead of having it exposed like the shuttle's is.

I'm sad to see the Shuttle go... but a capsule (or small space plane) is a safer and more "all-purpose" type of a spacecraft.

taillesskangaru
Feb 08, 2008, 07:08 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_%28spacecraft%29

Genocidicbunny
Feb 08, 2008, 08:48 PM
The Buran was a failure in all respects. it was expensive, as well as not fully functional, which is also partly why it was scrapped. No, we need a better multiple re-entry vehicle. Something unlike the shuttle.

taillesskangaru
Feb 09, 2008, 02:33 AM
The Buran was a failure in all respects. it was expensive, as well as not fully functional, which is also partly why it was scrapped. No, we need a better multiple re-entry vehicle. Something unlike the shuttle.

Or, the Russians just ran out of money.

The Buran is in many ways superior to the US shuttle, but was developed at the unfortunate time of the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, so it never got the attention it needed. Anyway, the Soyuz works pretty well so the Russians keep using them instead of spending money on Buran or their space plane (can't remember the name atm).

Genocidicbunny
Feb 09, 2008, 01:05 PM
Or, the Russians just ran out of money.

The Buran is in many ways superior to the US shuttle, but was developed at the unfortunate time of the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, so it never got the attention it needed. Anyway, the Soyuz works pretty well so the Russians keep using them instead of spending money on Buran or their space plane (can't remember the name atm).

Thats what you think. The program was doomed a while before the money ran out really.

peter grimes
Feb 09, 2008, 08:29 PM
Here's a link to a talk by Burt Rutan (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/4) (the guy who's company won the Xprize). He makes some really convincing points, especially about maturation cycles of technologies.

I really can't wait to see what's coming in 5 to 15 years! :)

knez
Feb 09, 2008, 09:54 PM
Here's a link to a talk by Burt Rutan (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/4) (the guy who's company won the Xprize). He makes some really convincing points, especially about maturation cycles of technologies.

I really can't wait to see what's coming in 5 to 15 years! :)

the guy is right in practicly everything he said...