Today, the European supply spacecraft ATV2 “Johannes Kepler“ smoothly docked with the International Space Station. During the several hours lasting maneuver, the Automated Transfer Vehicle approached the ISS from a starting position at about 30 km distance. At a distance of 250 m, a fully automatic system maneuvered the ATV towards the ISS with the accuracy of centimeters while the spacecraft was circling the Earth at 28 000 km/h. “Johannes Kepler” is intended to deliver food, fuel and general supplies and to boost the space station into a higher orbit, which is a crucial pre-requisite to keep the ISS in operation.
Aerospace supplier MT Aerospace AG provides the ATV-programme with several high-performance products. The company located in Augsburg, Germany, is a technology leader for innovative light-weight solutions and developed and manufactured for example propellant, gas and water tanks for the supply spacecraft. Some of the tanks were produced using the innovative spinforming method, which was patented by MT Aerospace and allows the precise manufacture of light-weight tank shells in just one step. Moreover, MT Aerospace provided major parts of the load-carrying structure of the space vehicle. Further ATVs have already been commissioned.
Being the largest German supplier of the Ariane-5-programme, MT Aerospace also provided about 10 percent of the ARIANE 5 ES launcher that had sent the ATV on its way to the space station on February 16, including the booster cases as well as propellant tanks and tank structures.