Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Johannes Kepler' space freighter heads to station

ATV-CC Toulouse (Esa)Europe's space freighter, Johannes Kepler, has been blasted into orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana.


The robotic truck is heading to the space station with new supplies of food, air, fuel, and experiments, as well as other equipment.

Kepler weighed just over 20 tonnes at launch, making it the biggest payload ever lifted into the sky by an Ariane.

What is more, it was the 200th Ariane flight since the vehicle series was initiated in 1979.

Lift-off from the Kourou spaceport occurred at 18 hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds local time (2150.55 GMT) - the instant needed to put the truck on the right path to catch the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday next week.

ATV (BBC)"It was enormous; the mission was absolutely flawless," said an ecstatic Nico Dettmann, who heads up the freighter programme at the European Space Agency (Esa).

"It's like you've written a story and it turns out exactly the way you wanted. All the data we're getting from Kepler is positive. All the events have occurred that should've occurred, like solar panel deployment. The team has done a wonderful job and I'm really proud of them," he told BBC News.

When it gets to the station, Kepler will dock with the Russian Zvezda module on the rear of the orbiting platform. ...

via BBC News - 'Johannes Kepler' space freighter heads to station.

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