back to article 20-tonne space truck heads for ISS

The European Space Agency's second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) yesterday blasted off en route to the International Space Station. The Johannes Kepler rose heavenwards atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana at 21:50 GMT. The launch had previously been knocked back a day due to a minor technical …

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Megaphone

And it's back to the 70's

For Deep Purple and their record.......Space Truckin'

Over to you Fluff.

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Silver badge

Another frigging burn up?

Leave enough fuel in to go to parking orbit, and then when you've got a few of them, weld them together to form another space station...

Seriously, NASA, ESA, and the rest need to look at why so much serviceable stuff is designed to combust on re-entry, and whether we could do something more useful with it.

I'm always in awe of what these guys do, but it's tempered a little by the sheer amount of waste.

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Pirate

Other cargo

I hope square pigs is the only other thing it's carrying...

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Silver badge

dunno, prolly hard sums involved..

presumably to sucessfully re-enter there would be a need for more heat shielding, which adds weight, which requires more fuel, which adds weight etc etc.

that was what i assumed was the deal with leaving hassleblad cameras on the moon, although they are worth $1,000s the cost of bringing them back is greater.

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Space debris

The biggest problem in Low Earth Orbit is the growing issue of space debris. It has got so bad that it is agreed by the space powers that anything that is launched into LEO is deorbited so that it does not add to the problem. This will include the space station when it comes to the end of it's life.

Another problem for the ATV will be keeping it in orbit because it is too low to remain there when it fuel runs out.

Reuse would be nice but we are not there yet.

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Re: hard sums

EddieD was suggesting to leave it in orbit and use it there, not to bring it back.

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Gold badge
Boffin

ATV re-use

There is actually a tunnel (although small) that goes through the service module of the ATV. Also you'll notice that the ATV thrusters are not mounted in the middle of the aft panel, but the outer edge.

There was an idea kicked about of adding an extra docking port to the back of an ATV to allow you to stack them.

I won't even talk about the pros, but some negatives I can think of are:

The docking port will probably add considerable weight to the ATV, which reduces the cargo capacity. (Also the service module is currently unpressurised, so pressurising the tunnel will also add to the weight. I think that the tunnel is also smaller than a docking port?

The life of the ATV in orbit is considered to be months. Add more time to it and you get problems due to radiation degredation of the electronics, and degradation of the construction materials from the atomic oxygen which exists up there (and other things).

You need a way of getting rid of stuff from the ISS, and the ATV is a very convienient way of getting it out of orbit quickly (avoiding risk of more space junk problems).

If ATV gets a docking port on the back, it will probably be used to actually extend the current station, or possible used to dock a small RTV (Return transfer vehicle) which can be driven to a nice return trajectory by the ATV service module and then dropped, before the service module burns up like normal.

(By the way the ATVs dropping out of orbit when they run out of fuel needent be a problem; the last one on the stack just boosts the whole lot!)

However often this question is similar to "why don't you take all the cardboard boxes your things come in, tape them together and use them as an extension to your house?" They may be fine to carrying a TV home, but often aren't useful for anything long-term. By the time we can freely get up into space and back and handle recycling up there, most of what we had previously parked up there wouldn't be any use!

Oh another example is why do software people write new programs, why don't they just stick lots of old ones together? :)

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Boffin

@Naughtyhorse

"Enhancing the Saturn V translunar payload capability. "Authors Africano, R. C.; Logsdon, T. S

State that the price of putting 1Lb on the moon was more than the price of gold at the time. Several methods were used to raise the payload by 5%, which is quite a lot given the costs involved. 2.5% (half) of the improvement involved simply shifting the mixture ratio part way the 2nd stage ascent.

Useful for anyone considering the design of high performance space launch systems

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Garbage-service

@Eddie: how else do you propose they get rid of their garbage? Just chucking it out of the airlock is not a good idea.

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WTF?

Waste aside...

"If all goes according to plan, it will dock "directly and autonomously" with the ISS's Zvezda module on Thursday, 24 February."

WOW! Really!? We can do this but still we have war, famine, poverty, unemployment, homelessness back down on the planet...tech, I'm sure, will help save us, for sure...I think it's way over time we used it for the benefit of all humans...oh yeah, that means you! I'm connected...

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sooo...

You're saying the investigation into getting off of this over populated, under resourced planet, onto another one is a waste then?

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WTF?

Re: Waste aside...

Yep, we still have war, famine, poverty and whatnot. The reason is that huge numbers of people are unable to think more than a very short time in the future, so that, e.g., taking things by force from neighbours sounds like a better idea than talking to them, preventing pregnancies sounds like too much hassle, giving away food to poor countries sounds better than setting up a local agricultural industry - and funds to pure research sound like wasted money.

By the way, you know all those countries that are only now finally clawing their way out of subsistence farming and into a modern economy? They wouldn't stand a chance without telecommunication satellites.

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Well, I am

Because a) there are no human-habitable planets within reachable distance, b) we don't have the first hint of a clue how to terraform, c) even if we did it'd take centuries anyway, and d) it'd cost so much in resources to fund colony ships in any case that it becomes a question of how many millions of people you're willing to slaughter in order to send a few thousand out to die a hundred million miles from home. Oh, and e) we've got LEO figured out pretty well by now, and so far it's not making for much of a stepping stone because we still don't have any better way to drive a spacecraft than either profligate wastage of heavy chemical fuels, or ion drives with acceleration rates measured in micrometers-per-second-squared.

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Anonymous Coward

Get yer global solutions for global problems right here

I have a solution for the above, but it involves reducing the birth rate and population- workable, but not likely.

In the meantime false dichotomies as above should be avoided. We can walk and talk simultaneously, you know.

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Coat

@Waste aside...

Yes, we can do the things you quote because we can. Because we see benefit to it. Because therefore we want to.

The other things you mention we have because either:

1) Some people want them (war, famine, poverty particularly). A few of these people end up in positions of power, and therefore they arrange them.

2) Some people don't realise that what they do causes them (war, famine, unemployment, homelessness, etc.). A fair number of these people exist, and together they cause them.

I don't believe tech will save humans at all. All the things above happen because they can, and the various types of humans mean they do. Tech in some cases just enhances that ability. Advanced tech could advance the ability even further. No; I think that the cure is a human cure.

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FAIL

Famine and poverty, not to mention war

Let me put his into perspective for you Codemonkey

U.S.A. NASA budget

$

U.S.A. Military + "Black" budget

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

If you are looking to reduce poverty, famine and war, where do you think you should be looking for the money?

You should also consider that a portion of NASA funding comes from the Military and is used for work on Military projects.

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Bronze badge
Coat

Running out of names?

When will they launch the Sir Clive Sinclair?

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Happy

Sinclair?

Probably when they can get a C5 to escape velocity!

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Don't be silly

Sir Clive never advanced space science so they can't name a ship after him.

On the other hand Wallace and Gromit flew to the Moon.

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C5? Escape Velocity?

Well, if the Top Gear team can attempt to launch a Robin Reliant*....There's a challenge!

Elop ^W Epic fail!!!

Oh, dear mod, where's our Elop icon? Pretty-please!

*Ever tried changing the middle spark plug on one of those early ones? Practically a top-engine strip.

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Something we may never see again.

Six spacecraft will be docked with the ISS later this month.

Two Soyuz capsules, one Progress, a European ATV, a Japanese HtV, and a Shuttle. To say nothing of the weight of it all.

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Happy

Environmentally Correct Terminology

"To say nothing of the weight of it all."

I believe you mean mass.

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This does not compute.

20.06 tonnes on the pad, minus 4534kg of propellant , 1600kg of dry cargo, 850kg of propellant for Zvezda 100kg of oxygen... eh .. er... em... anyone know what's the other 12.976 tonnes is used for ?

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Yes it does.

The mass of the vehicle. It needs engines and fuel to dock with the ISS.

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Thumb Up

As a tight arse who loves hard rubbish collections....

a) I would so much LOVE to ride a BIG rocket full of food and oxygen etc.. up into space...

b) I am curious as to why they do not choose to (carefully) bring it into a SLOW descent, and allow it to brake with a big parachute - from the tangible fringe of the atmosphere - to slow down over a number of orbits...

c) I for one would love to deck out a used space truck for a home...

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Joke

Rubbish collections, pah!

In Britain, they happen every other week. Carefully snifted ^Wshifted by the bin-cops.

"Oi, mate, you can't put that rotten space nappy in the metal bin. Don't ya know nuffink? Here's a fifty quid fine.."

Bet ISS hasn't paid it's council tax.

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4,534kg

sounds like an american amount, or 10000lb

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