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Behind the scenes inside the ATV factory

Posted: June 22, 2011

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As one European cargo ship ended its mission Tuesday, production teams in Germany are testing the next Automated Transfer Vehicle before shipping it to the launch site in August.

Liftoff of the third ATV, dubbed Edoardo Amaldi after an Italian physicist, is scheduled for February 2012 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. It will deliver supplies, propellant, oxygen and water to the International Space Station.

Spaceflight Now visited the EADS Astrium factory in mid-June to observe the final assembly and testing of the ATV cargo ship and the Ariane 5 upper stage that will propel it into orbit. The facility is located in Bremen, Germany.

The ATV integrated cargo carrier, provided by Thales Alenia Space of Italy, sits in a final assembly and test portal in a clean room at EADS Astrium in Bremen, Germany.
Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now


Technicians work inside the pressurized cabin of the ATV's cargo carrier.
Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now


Workers load a cargo rack into the ATV.
Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now


One of the cargo ship's four main engines mounted to the aft cone of the service module. Built by Aerojet, the engines each generate about 110 pounds of thrust and are used for major orbit maneuvers to reach the space station and return to Earth.
Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now


This image, taken inside the ATV's propulsion module, show the spacecraft's propellant tanks and the maze of plumbing to go along with it.
Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now


The Ariane 5 upper stage for the third ATV mission is complete and awaiting shipment to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The mission will employ a version of the stage burning storable propellant. Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now