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ESA's ATV-2 lifts off from French Guiana

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The Ariane 5 ES V200 lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:50:55 GMT (18:50:55 local time) on Wednesday 16 February 2011. Photo: ESA.

KOUROU, FRENCH GUIANA (BNS): Europe's second automated transfer vehicle (ATV-2), designated Johannes Kepler, was lifted off by the workhorse Ariane 5 launcher from the Arianespace launching center in French Guiana at 21:50 GMT (18:50 local) on Wednesday, starting its mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).

"This launch takes place in a crowded and changing manifest for the ISS access, with HTV, Progress, ATV and the Shuttle coming and going," Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, was quoted as saying in a ESA news report.

"ATV-2 is the first of a production of four and this new step is the result of technical expertise and political support from Member States to ESA and to international cooperation. We are now looking for the docking to ISS to declare success," he added.

ATV Johannes Kepler will dock directly and autonomously with Russia’s Zvezda module to deliver cargo, propellant and oxygen to the orbital outpost.

The ATVs are contributing to the support and maintenance of the ISS together with Russia’s Progress and Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, the second of which is now docked to the European-built Node-2.

These three independent servicing systems provide a secure logistics lifeline, while NASA’s Space Shuttle is going to be phased out later this year, the report added.

This latest successful Ariane 5 launch, the 200th Ariane launch and the first mission in 2011, once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities.

The 56th launch of an Ariane 5, and 42nd successful mission in a row, clearly demonstrates the launcher’s reliability and availability. It also set a new payload record, by boosting more than 20 metric tons into low Earth orbit.

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ESA  Satellite  
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