Ariane 5 ATV heads for an 0125h local time Kourou blast off

by | Feb 6, 2008 | ESA | 0 comments

Foreground left, ESA ISS programme manager Alan Thirkettle and again on the left, but further away, former French astronaut Michel Tognini, ESA’s astronaut centre chief

ESA ISS programme manager Alan Thirkettle said at the 1300h ESA briefing here at the Kennedy Space Center media center that the launch of the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, its unmanned freighter for delivering cargo to the International Space Station, named Jules Verne, has a target launch date of the 7 to 8 March – but Arianespace confirmed to me that the date is 8 March and the time is 0125h French Guiana local time. That is 0525h central European timeThe launch window for this first of five ATV had been 22 February to 9 March, while an earlier target date had been mid-February we were told – so they have slipped it right to the end.

The reason Thirkettle gave is that while the ATV was fuelled and ready to be integrated in to the Ariane 5 Evolution Storable (ES) version that wil orbit it, and the booster itself would be ready for final assembly in the next 7-10 days, the agency, and its ISS partners, had basically agreed to give themselves more time, describing it as a “matter of prudence”

Asked if ATV was insured Thirkettle said it wasn’t. While the rocket was, apparently to the tune of €150 million, he said ESA had opted for a lot of testing to ensure nothing went wrong

That’s confidence for you

What he did say about any possible failure, that sheds light on the plan b, if such a thing exists or ESA managers dare even to think that such a thing exists, is that there would be a three year hiatus and that means that ESA would probably not be providing cargo to ISS, if its operational life ends in 2016. Without ATV and Shuttle one wonders, what effective life can ISS can possibly have?

On a happier note Thirkettle confidently explained that for an ISS that operated beyond 2016 they would need two ATVs a year. So assuming a 2020 end-of-life date for ISS, European industry could expect a new contract for up to nine more vehicles, in addition to the six ATV contract that already exists

As it is ESA has to renegotiate its contract with Arianespace for ATV launches as it originally contracted the European launch provider for a lot more – probably when the plan was to send nine ATVs to station

I’ve been wondering what they will call ATV-2 and asking Thirkettle this he said to me that they would think about that once ATV-1 was launched. Well if 19th century science fiction authors are popular perhaps I can suggest one Herbert George Wells?

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned Seradata database. Trusted by over 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, Seradata is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Boeing’s losses on Starliner programme reach US$1.5 billion as its delays persist

The Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) - the first crewed mission of CST-100 Starliner, Boeing’s partially reusable spacecraft - was Read more

Ariane 5 finale: last launch sends Heinrich Hertz and Syracuse 4B satellites safely on their way

The 117th and last Ariane 5, flight VA261 using the Ariane 5 ECA+ variant, successfully lifted off from the ELA3 Read more

Dragon CRS-28 undocks from ISS and splashes down off coast of Florida

Dragon CRS-28, an unpiloted resupply craft, undocked from the space-facing (Zenith) port of the International Space Station’s (ISS) Harmony module Read more

ESA’s Euclid telescope mapping dark matter is launched by SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 carrying the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Euclid Telescope from Cape Canaveral, US, at 1512 Read more

Russian Cosmonauts make EVA to replace ISS hardware

At 1424 GMT on 22 June 2023, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin opened the Poisk module hatch on Read more

JUICE finally manages to get its radar antenna out but there is no joy for hobbled Lunar Flashlight

ESA’s JUICE (JUpiter ICy-moon Explorer) mission, built by Airbus, which is planned to make detailed observations of Jupiter and its Read more

JUICE mission to Jupiter’s moons blasts off after initial delays…then it has a radar antenna deployment fault

After Flight VA260 was delayed by one day due to the weather, the Ariane 5 ECA+ rocket successfully launched the Read more

Italian government gives Vega C vote of confidence with a three-launch order for its IRIDE constellation

Arianespace has won a contract for up to three Vega C launches for IRIDE, the Italian government’s Earth observation constellation. Read more

Soyuz MS-23 “Rescue craft” is launched to ISS but crew is told they have to wait another six months to come back to Earth

The uncrewed Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft was successfully launched onboard a Soyuz 2-1A from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan, Read more




nasaspacexecoreviewsissesaArianespacevideochina25virgin galacticfalcon 9ULAFalcon 9v1.2FT Block 5RoscosmosevaDGAspacewalkaviation weekaressoyuzIGTInternational Space StationBeidouawardsspaceBlue OriginSatellite broadcastingRocket LabStarlinkrussiamoonCargo Return VehicleboeingAirbus DSmarsblogresearchISROOneWeborionspaceshiptwojaxaimpacthyperboladelaymarsdemocratrocketEutelsatobamagoogle lunar prizelunarhypertextlaunchVegaSEStourismbarack obamaconstellationfiguresnorthspaceflightthales alenia spacenode 2fundedRaymond LygoIntelsatLockheed Martin2009Express MD-2Atlas Vromess2Elon Muskdassault aviationaviationLucy2008wk2sstlukradiotestmissilesuborbitaldocking portexplorationAriane 5 ECAVirgin OrbitinternetChina Manned Space EngineeringAriane 5SLSsts-1222010flightspace tourismNorthrop Grummancotsnewspapermissile defensegalileospaceportExpress AMU 1Long March 2D/2Electronbuildspace stationaltairLong March 4Cinternational astronautical congresssoyuz 2-1ashuttleProton MEuropean Space AgencyLauncherOneCosmosIntelsat 23scaled compositeshanleybudgetrulesnew yorkAriane 6shenzhouspace shuttleatvVietnamcongressMojaveboldenLong March 2COrbital ATKnew shepardInmarsatGuiana Space CenteriaccnesksclawsSpace Systems/LoralUK Space AgencyLong March 4BILSUS Air Forceprotonlunar landerTalulah RileyApollodarpaFalcon 9v1.2 Block 5Kuaizhou 1AVega CSkylonAstriumeupicturebaseusaastronautdragonlanderfiveeventTelesatSSLElectron KSNorth KoreaAprilSNCWednesdayinterviewSea Launchfalcon50thcustomerlinkLong Marchatlantissuccessor