Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Final preparations for first human-rated spacecraft to be lauched from Europe's Spaceport

For the first time in 40 years of space activities, a silent revolution is taking place at the European launch site in Kourou. Jules Verne, the first human-rated spacecraft to be launched from Europe's Spaceport, is being prepared for launch.

The 48 m3 pressurised module of the largest, most complex automated spacecraft ever developed in Europe has been inspected and closed, fulfilling the most stringent rules of human spaceflight.

Three days later, the two halves of the 20-tonne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) – the avionics/propulsion module and the pressurised cargo carrier – were mated ready for its launch, scheduled for February 2008, to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS).

“In order to eliminate any risk of disease or contamination for the astronauts on board the ISS, we have disinfected all the surfaces inside the pressurised module with pure hydrogen peroxide. Even if it is launched unmanned, ‘Jules Verne’ respects all the human spacecraft safety requirements. This also applies to the 7 tonnes of cargo carried into orbit”, said Patrice Amadieu, ESA’s ATV Deputy Project Manager.

Over five days, the interior of the cabin has been first disinfected, filled with approximately 1300 kg of ‘dry cargo’ such as food (500 kg), clothing (80 kg) and spare parts, and then disinfected a second time. Afterwards, experts from ESA, NASA and the world-famous Institut Pasteur’s laboratory, through its branch in French Guiana, have taken surface samples inside the ATV cabin for bacteriological analysis.
“Before closing the aft rear door of the pressurised module [through which the cargo has been loaded], we inspected one last time the entire cabin to be sure that everything was secured for the launch and safely placed where the ISS crew will expect the different items to be. After working for seven years on the programme, it was a special feeling to be the last person inside Jules Verne before it is launched into orbit”, said Charlotte Beskow, ESA engineer in charge of on-orbit crew operations.

Last week, with the technical support of Thales Alenia Space in Turin and flown in from Italy, the ATV’s tanks were filled with about 268 litres of drinking water for the ISS astronauts. This is the municipal water of Turin (Italy) that has been treated according to Russian standards. Once in orbit, the water will be transferred via hoses to small portable containers or to the main tank on the Russian Service Module, where ‘Jules Verne’ will be docked for up to four months.
“It took about five hours to tank the water on board. The fact that for the first time drinking water will be carried into orbit by a European cargo spaceship for the ISS crew brings a great sense of satisfaction”, said Pierre Rebeyre, ESA expert for water quality control and Life Support System Development.

The ATV can deliver to the ISS water either in compliance with the standards of NASA or with those of the Russian State Space Agency Roscosmos, but the ISS partners have decided Jules Verne will only bring the Russian water type.
Roscosmos standards call for water with certain amounts of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and fluoride, and disinfection with silver obtained via electrolysis. By contrast, the NASA potable standard requires water with a low dry residue, such as the one produced through reverse electrolysis process by fuel cells on board the NASA Space Shuttle, and disinfection with iodine.

Synthetic air inside the cabin

Once the ATV's pressurised module is closed and sealed, its air can be purged and replaced by pure synthesised air. The main purpose of this operation is to ensure that the astronauts breathe clean air, free from particles, bacteria or microbes and unaffected by off-gassing from the several tonnes of cargo.
Off-gassing poses a serious concern in space because cargo objects emit odours and odourless gases that can endanger the cabin environment. Because no windows can be opened in space, the climate of the ISS and space vehicles are delicately checked and balanced. The air inside the pressurised module will be regularly analysed until launch by ESA, NASA and Institut Pasteur experts to be sure that cargo off-gassing will not alter the quality of the air brought into orbit and then mixed with the Space Station atmosphere.

Final steps

Implementing a work schedule of two eight-hour shifts and sometimes three shifts for six days a week, the ATV campaign, which started in early August, solved all technical issues. The two major pieces of the ATV, a pressurised payload unit and an avionics/propulsion unit, were carefully ‘mated’ for the last time in one piece on 15 December in the Spaceport's giant integration hall. In this final launch configuration, the ATV is the size of a double-decker London bus.

As the year 2008 approaches, Jules Verne ATV will be transferred to the filling area in the restricted propellant zone of building S5-B. In the first days of February, the cargo vessel will be transferred to a different site for integration atop a special Ariane 5 launcher. The launch and maiden voyage to the International Space Station is scheduled on the first Ariane 5 flight of the new year in February 2008.

Markus Bauer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

nachricht Scientists measure how ions bombard fusion device walls
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>