The ESA's newest Automated Transfer Vehicle--ATV-2, otherwise known as Johannes Kepler--is loaded up and primed for its February 15th launch to the International Space Station, marking a several significant milestones for the European Space Agency and its contribution to ISS operations. Among those benchmarks, it marks the first "operational" flight for the ESA's ATVs, the 200th launch aboard the European Ariane 5 rocket, and the heaviest load an Ariane 5 has ever hurled into orbit.
ATV-2's trip to the ISS isn't technically the first cargo delivery made by the ESA to the ISS; that honor belongs to ATV-2's predecessor, Jules Verne. But Jules Verne was a qualification flight (conducted in 2008) tasked with performing several technology demonstrations before docking with the ISS and delivering a small payload.
ATV-2 is the real deal, headed straight for the ISS where it will deliver 7.5 tons of cargo, propellant, and oxygen to the crew there. It will also serve as a temporary ISS module; after docking with the station on February 26 it will hang around until June, providing extra space for the crew. It will also periodically burn some of that propellant in its own thrusters to raise the ISS's orbit, offseting natural orbital decay caused by atmospheric drag.
Toward the end of its tour, ATV-2 will become a giant orbital waste bin. Its tanks will be filled with liquid waste and its cargo space with solid waste bags and spent or unwanted hardware. It will then be undocked, de-orbited, and incinerated during re-entry.
But perhaps the most significant milestone is the ESA's official operational entry into the ISS's re-supply chain. With the Space Shuttle program coming to an end, Russian Soyuz capsules and Progress rockets along with Japanese HTV-2 spacecraft—joined now by the European ATVs—will become the only means to ferry supplies from Earth to the ISS.
You can follow Johannes Kepler's progress via the ESA's ATV blog.
This is great now we have a giant bucket filled with waste products orbiting the earth.
Money is the root of all evil, money is also what makes the world go round. Therefore the rotation of the earth is evil and we should stop it from spinning.
to Clay Dillow if is it possible can i have ur email
i want to implement wierd money invention for my graduation project i need ur help please
thats my email => email@example.com
Thank you Mr Obama, soon the US will be the only nation not able to supply the space station.
SpaceX is working on it. Don't get your space panties in a wad. And I like how you listed several other resupply methods (only minus the space shuttle) and throw the word "ONLY" in there like we're on thin ice here. Sure you can just about fit a Soyuz in the cargo bay of a space shuttle. But main construction is finished as far as I know. Also, I think it's GREAT. It actually more and more like an INTERNATIONAL space station now rather than USA space club house for friends.
@boincman - yes it's called outsourcing. We create the ideas and implement them then everyone builds them cheaper. We invented the foundation for the computer. Now foreign countries make them super cheap so that we can use them. It's the cycle of life. Get used to it and reap its benefits. Odds are American tourists and businesses will be in Space first...we'll then outsource that as well.
@ boincman ; We didn't build that station on our own, and it was never intended to even be just for the use of the people from nations that invested in it. It's a station for HUMAN exploration of space and space technologies. When NASA gets into it's own vehicles again isn't as important as having everyone trained, for instance, in everyone else's technology so that we have a well trained body of people continually on station in orbit as all of the younger programs, national or private, start putting much more in both people to help, and equipment to maintain as we go forward. Right now, with our nation's money scenario, it makes more sense that we make sure that orbital environmental infrastructure is what it needs to be. Within a couple of years, there will be taxi tourists and quite possibly more actual vacationers. Bigelow has been waiting years to get their technology flown because they know that with the 'Nasa seal of approval' they can have optimized versions of their habs up in a very short time. Just because boost price per kilo is coming down doesn't mean it's yet fallen to affordability in our current economy. ESA belongs in the ISS. The German program is ready to go to the point where they need dedicated experienced integration staff. If we need to be doing anything, it's building another run of modules for ISS that SpaceX can lift for us and start rotating crews through as well as doing the experiments. Even 'competing' nations don't want to be going up there all alone. Everyone needs their people trained. Everyone needs their ground control to be what it needs, to be able to move their programs forward.