A modern, impressive spacecraft
The Progress-M entered service in 1989, when the Mir space station was still operational. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)—developed by Europe for the ISS programme alongside the Columbus laboratory and the European Robotic Arm (ERA)—is now set to take over some of the Progress-M’s tasks.
It is the biggest spacecraft ever developed in Europe, weighing close to 21 tonnes at lift-off and measuring 10.3 metres long and 4.5 metres across. It spans 22 metres with its 4 solar panels deployed.
A very special launch
After launch and an initial “dormant” phase, the ATV will be the 1st European spacecraft to rendezvous in space, navigating with GPS, and the 1st to dock automatically with a space station, using metric-precision laser guidance.
After docking to the ISS’s Russian Zvezda module, the ATV will provide additional pressurized capacity on the ISS for 6 months. It is then scheduled to make 4 more flights up to 2013.
ATV arriving at CSG.* CNES’s mission is vital since it has coordinated all adaptation work at the CSG and operates the ATV-CC on behalf of ESA.