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200th Ariane mission ready to launch

posted 19 Feb 2011, 11:53 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Feb 2011, 11:55 ]

European Space Agency ready to launch 200th Ariane mission for journey to deliver supplies to orbital outpost.

KOUROU, FRENCH GUIANA (FEBRUARY 14, 2011)  ESA - An unmanned Ariane rocket is scheduled to launch a cargo vessel into orbit on Tuesday (February 15) in Europe's second mission to carry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

The modified Ariane launcher is set to lift off from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America, carrying a 20 tonne cargo module, the heaviest payload ever launched on an Ariane rocket.

"We are excited. We have been working eight months to get the vehicle on the top of the launcher now we are there tomorrow at 1930 we will launch and we are all looking forward and we will make it," Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)Programme Manager, Nico Dettmann said.

The ESA's second Automated Transfer Vehicle will launch from Ariane 5 after blast-off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou to deliver supplies and reboost the International Space Station.

"ATV 2 is the heaviest vehicle the agency ever built and it is also the most complex. We included a large number of modifications since the last ATV," Dettmann said, adding "we are confident that it will work."

The mission will also hold the distinction of being flown to orbit on the 200th Ariane rocket launch, the 56th launch for the workhorse Ariane 5 variant.