Automated Transfer Vehicle

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Automated Transfer Vehicle

ISS030-E-175078: Automated Transfer Vehicle-3European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) approaches the International Space Station. Credit: NASA. The European Automated Transfer Vehicle is a unpiloted cargo carrier designed to supply the International Space Station with liquid and dry cargo as well as gases. It has a substantial cargo capability.

The ATVs launch from French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket. The Kourou launch site is about 5 degrees north of the Equator, giving the Ariane almost full advantage of the Earth's rotation.

The ATV is more than 32 feet long and almost 15 feet in diameter. It has a dry weight of about 23,000 pounds. It docks automatically with the station, though station crew members can take charge of the process if difficulties arise.

It can carry more than 16,900 pounds of cargo. It can take to the station as much as 12,000 pounds of dry cargo, almost 1,850 pounds of water, as much as 220 pounds of gases, and up to 1,890 pounds of propellant for the station.

Additionally, tanks for its own engines can hold more than 10,000 pounds of propellant for its own four main engines and 28 attitude control thrusters. The ATV's main engines can reboost the station, and its thrusters can provide station attitude control.

Once its standard racks are emptied (it can accommodate eight of them) and other dry cargo is transferred from its 1,685-cubic-foot pressurized cargo area and liquids and gases are moved into station tanks, the ATV becomes a garbage container. It can load more than 13,800 pounds of dry and liquid wastes, which with the spacecraft are incinerated on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

ATV Specifications
First launch to ISS 2008
Launch site Guiana Space Center, French Guiana
Launch vehicle Ariane 5 rocket
Length 10.3 m (33.8 ft)
Diameter 4.5 m (14.8 ft)
Launch mass 20,750 kg (45,746 lb)
Cargo mass 7,776 kg (16,903 lb)
Pressurized volume 48 m3 (1,695.1 ft3)
Unpressurized volume N/A
Length on orbit 6 months
Docking method/location    Automatic docking/Russian segment
Return method Destructive reentry

Related links:
› Jules Verne ATV prepares for le voyage extraordinaire
› ATV Preflight Briefing Graphics, Jan. 31, 2008
› European Space Agency's ATV page

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Page Last Updated: October 17th, 2013
Page Editor: Jerry Wright