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'Space Freighter' On Its Way to Resupply International Space Station 85

SchrodingerZ writes "An ATV 'Space truck' [launched Friday] from Kourou base in French Guiana to the International Space Station. 'The robotic truck is heading to the International Space Station (ISS) with new supplies of food, water, air, and fuel.' It launched at 04:34 GMT for a 63 minute flight into orbit. At 20 tonnes, the ATV is the biggest ship servicing the station now that the U.S. shuttles have been retired. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launched with a Ariane 5 carrier rocket, it is the 'third such craft to be sent to the station by ESA (European Space Agency).' It will dock with the ISS on the night of the 28th and 29th, Paris time."
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'Space Freighter' On Its Way to Resupply International Space Station

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Probably soon to be thanks China and India too.

    Is there not a single US launch vehicle that can struggle to LEO and supply the space station?

    NASA now just an empty shell and all our hopes on dot-com billionare dilettantes...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:22PM (#39460981)

      You can thank Obama for that. He is beholden to his corporate dot-com masters on the left and completely dismantled the Constellation program that George W. Bush had the vision to initiate. Under Bush we had hope for the future, but under Obama it is nothing but sadness. Hopefully Romney or Santorum can turn this country around and get us back on track for reaching towards the stars!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Killjoy_NL ( 719667 )

        Thanks for that, funniest thing I read all day, you my friend might have a future in satire comedy :)

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If Bush hadn't blown a trillion dollars on the Iraq war, maybe Obama would have had more options.

        As for Romney or Frothy: do either of these religious nutcases actually believe in science?

        I'm guessing all your hopes rest on Gingrinch.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jiro ( 131519 )

          If Obama hadn't thrown a roughly equal amount on the stimulus....

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If Obama hadn't thrown a roughly equal amount on the stimulus....

            You would have been worse off :)
            oh, and didn't Bush also do some stimulus package?
            (Anyways, you can be sure Fox would complain no matter what he did)

            • by khallow ( 566160 )

              You would have been worse off :)

              Well, something or someone has been screwing up the US's recovery from this recession for the last few years []. I'd start by looking at stimulus packages that weren't actually stimulus.

        • by cdmsr ( 1657503 )
          If I could ask 'MoonBase' Gingrich one question it would be "Have you met your next wife yet?" He trades in about every eighteen years so Callista's about game over.
      • I surely hope you're trolling. What you're doing is essentially accusing Obama of being too much big government and too little big government at the same time. Which way do you want it, anyway?
      • Is there a way to modify something as both funny and sad? This post would get it.
      • by medcalf ( 68293 )
        Actually Bush's space plan was a complete, unworkable mess and Obama's got it mostly right (though the Senate's insistence on an SLS super rocket with no mission that's eating the rest of the NASA budget is no help). It always amazes me that the R's keep reaching for a socialist space program while Obama is taking a free market (relatively) approach.
        • by zyzko ( 6739 )

          I find it mildly amusing that as a tourist from Europe visiting Kennedy Space Center last summer I was told numerous times that no tax dollars are used to show me the things that they show. I had no problem with admission fee - but it was slightly humorous to listen to the "no taxpayer money spent on you" crap while watching the last shuttle being fueled and listening to how great NASA is now with free market doing the things NASA used to do, oh well, there are the launch platforms we used - decomission in

        • by tsotha ( 720379 )

          I'm not a big Obama fan (understatement of the year), but I have to give the guy credit for what he's done with the space program. Congress has always treated NASA as a pork piggy bank, but in recent years things have gotten so bad it's a wonder the agency can accomplish anything.

  • Really expensive (Score:4, Informative)

    by zrbyte ( 1666979 ) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @11:54AM (#39460839)

    Reading TFA, this resupply mission is hugely expensive compared to what SpaceX [] will deliver (if nothing goeas wrong in their next launch)

    Now, being European and all gives me some pride that the ESA is doing this and all, but the whole thing just seems so wasteful. Especially if we consider that the Dragon capsule [] will be reusable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Has there been a single commercial launch of any of these paper rockets?
      • Two years from now, you won't be asking this question, and your children may ride on commercial space ships. Commercial space ships are a giant wave of the future (, and that future starts when SpaceX resupplies the Space Station on April 30th, 2012. You remind me of this: "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value," -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre , France .
        • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @02:34PM (#39461665) Homepage Journal

          Two years from now, you won't be asking this question, and your children may ride on commercial space ships.

          I very much hope you're right. But you can't be sure you're right, and neither can anyone else. Meanwhile, you may have noticed that there's a space station in orbit that needs resupply now, not at some indefinite point in the future.

          Commercial space ships are a giant wave of the future (

          This looks like a fun game! Can I play?
          Social networking is the wave of the future (
          Fusion power is the wave of the future (
          Printed newspapers are the wave of the future (

          You remind me of this: "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value," -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch

          Straw man. GPP wasn't questioning the value of space travel; he was questioning the value of the specific approach of SpaceX and other companies which are claiming that they will offer reliable space transportation at dramatically lower costs than government space agencies have so far managed to do. And they may be right, but so far, nobody knows for sure. What we do know for sure is that we have been hearing optimistic "we can do X for $Y" statements pretty much since the beginning of the space age, and no matter who's saying it, the price always turns out to be $ZY, for values of Z much greater than 1.

          BTW, that Foch quote was from 1911; I suspect that a few years later, he'd have freely admitted he was wrong. Equally wrong was Giulio Douhet, in 1921: "Would not the sight of a single enemy airplane be enough to induce a formidable panic? Normal life would be unable to continue under the constant threat of death and imminent destruction." Look at the position taken by the pessimists, and that taken by the visionaries, and the reality is usually somewhere in the middle. Also, it's interesting to note that it was precisely the massive government investment (on all sides of the conflict) in aviation technology in WW1 that spurred the growth of the aviation industry in the interwar years, and laid the groundwork for the equally massive, government-investment-funded growth during WW2. In 1911, airplanes were toys. By 1918, they were reliable and sophisticated machines. And this did not happen as a result of visionaries and dreamers, but of hard military necessity.

          • "And this did not happen as a result of visionaries and dreamers, but of hard military necessity."

            Of hard military necessity... and a lot of public founds.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )

            Meanwhile, you may have noticed that there's a space station in orbit that needs resupply now,

            Which Russia has been doing, the ESA is testing out now as you read this, SpaceX etc is planning for, China could develop the capability (docking etc) for and even Iran can get payloads that high.
            I do not see that paticular point (resupply) as an issue since there is one proven, one more implemented and one more in progress method to resupply the ISS.
            Currently NASA has had the chop for being the politically low han

        • "Two years from now, you won't be asking this question"

          That doesn't invalidate the question now, does it?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You know... on a geek website like slashdot (trolls excepted), I'd expect technical criticism... but for people to be basically wishing all the best to the SpaceX-type projects.

        They aren't scammers, or fraudsters, or wall street rip off merchants. It's hardcore geekery with vaulting ambition.

        These projects can revolutionise the future of humanity and give us cheap-ish travel into space.

        • Ambition is great, but it isn't everything. The Shuttle was envisioned as being cheap and commodity-based space travel, but it turned out to be very expensive. The ambition was there, the intention was there, but the end result still didn't hit the mark.

          SpaceX are a fantastic company, and I really do love what they're doing. But at the moment, the ESA is actually flying rockets to the ISS, right now, successfully and repeatedly. When SpaceX actually reach that stage, then we can start to criticise the incum

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            The shuttle became one vessel to do everything, and was such a weird compromise it was a wonder the design was ever finished and that it could do anything at all. A major part of that "everything" became "create overpriced pork projects in these areas", which killed one crew, while the requirement to go into polar orbits gave it the insane shape of strapping big rockets to the side (which killed another) instead of the original design of putting it on top of the rockets.
      • There have been several launches of the Falcon 1 and one of the Falcon 9 where they recovered the capsule from orbit. There is a Falcon 9 ready to go at the Kennedy Space Center pending a few software updates. Quit being loud and angry with an uninformed opinion.
      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @08:11PM (#39463367)

        Space-X's rocket is hardly a paper rocket. It actually exists, has been fired several times, and has had two test flights that were fairly successful. Later this year a test flight will carry actual cargo to the space station. Space-X is in my estimation only about 2 years away from being able to do regular cargo runs to the space station. Their human-rated Dragon capsule is also coming along nicely. Their design looks good, and by combining the escape system with the maneuvering system they've managed to reduce weight and increase reliability and safety over the systems used by the old Apollo program and the current Soyuz program. In about 6 years they will be able to fly astronauts to the space station (really).

        I'm very excited about what they are doing. I hope that NASA and the government support them because they really are doing good work, and doing things that NASA can't (if because it's pulled 8 ways by different levels of government). Right now it looks like Space-X is really our only chance to get humans into space. Why waste more money on paper rockets like constellation, or even the Orion capsule at this stage.

        There are other companies like Boeing, Bigelow, and others that are in the running too. They should be supported, and given NASA contracts where appropriate.

        I find the skepticism, particularly on the part of Republicans, to private space flight be very puzzling. Their sarcastic congratulations to Space-X for doing what NASA did 50 years ago was really grating. I'd think that they'd be very excited that a private company is having success. Granted all rockets these days are made by private companies, but they are typically funded in large part by government (air force, NASA, etc).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by M1FCJ ( 586251 )

          The reason they are against it is plain and simple: "They're not in control of it". All of these small private companies have managed to beat Boeing and Lockheed with a fraction of the budget and pork barreling and they don't like that fact a bit at all.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Let's hear it for unmanned robotic vehicles.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I didn't find any cost quotes in TFA, would you care to elaborate where your unstated but 'hugely expensive' figure comes from? estimates an Ariane 5 launch as US $120M, while your link gives $54M for a Falcon launch. Certainly cheaper (once it is available?) but the difference is hardly "huge".

      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        Plus the Falcon has about half the payload capacity of an Ariane 5.
        • by tsotha ( 720379 )
          By 2013 the Falcon Heavy version will have 2.5 times the payload capacity of the Ariane 5.
          • by Teun ( 17872 )
            That's a bit like not buying xgadget now because next year's has more y.

            Please remember the space industry has always had dreams and setbacks, the Ariane 5 exists and flies now.

            • by tsotha ( 720379 )
              Well, sure, if they were talking ten years out I'd agree. But they're not. They're talking about next year.
      • by Phaedra ( 29702 )
        From the video,

        00:10 $600M for the launch
        00:32 11yrs and $1.9B to develop
        00:41 6 tons of cargo
        01:13 6 month duration and then burns up on reentry

        I dunno, 11yrs and $2.5B to resupply and reboost the ISS for 6 months might qualify as 'hugely' expensive. I am disappointed that lifting 6 tons of cargo into LEO with an unmanned, single use vehicle is as expensive as the entire Mars Science Laboratory [] project.
    • The ATV carries more than 1.5 tons than the Dragon.
      • Grand slam!

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:38PM (#39461069)
        About half of the ATV's payload mass delivered to the ISS is fuel for the station-keeping thrusters that are used along with the ATV's own motors to allow the ISS to maintain its orbit. The Dragon capsule only carries dry or bottled cargo that must be transfered to the station by hand and the Dragon's service module can't be used to carry out stationkeeping burns.
        • Can't it though? The latest version of the design includes retro rockets built into the sides for launch escape and propulsive landing. As long as you can birth it to the station properly, it seems like all the rest of the hardware you need is going to be there for sure.

          • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

            The ATV carries three tonnes of fuel which it uses to boost the four hundred tonne mass of the entire station using four 250N engines in-line with the vehicle and the ISS itself. It docks at a Russian module along the axis of the station. This approach and docking manoeuvre has to be an automated process since the station's robot arms can't reach that point.

            The Dragon capsule can't autodock as it doesn't have the requisite hardware and software so the plan is to dock it at a side port, the one used by the

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      That's the difference between reality and someone's dreams.

      Re-usability might sound nice but especially for non-fancy freighters it could very well be more costly than disposable containers.

    • this resupply mission is hugely expensive compared to what SpaceX will deliver (if nothing goeas wrong in their next launch)

      "Will". "If". Those are very significant words. I wish SpaceX the best of luck, but there's an enormous difference between what ESA can do and what SpaceX can do: ESA can do it right now.

    • Re:Really expensive (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @02:12PM (#39461537) Homepage

      Reading TFA, this resupply mission is hugely expensive compared to what SpaceX will deliver (if nothing goeas wrong in their next launch)

      ROTFLMAO. No shit it's more expensive - it's delivering more cargo. It can provide reboost to the ISS, which Dragon cannot. It can supply propellant and bulk gasses, which Dragon cannot. It can dock itself rather than relying on the Canadarm 2 to berth it...
      You get what you pay for.
      As I've said before in these discussions: It's not just about price, capabilities matter.* It doesn't matter how cheap something is if it cannot do the job. A subcompact may only cost a quarter of what a full size pickup does, but four subcompacts cannot replace a fulls size pickup - and only a fool would confuse the two in the first place.
      * Seriously, it's annoying to have to keep repeating this. Is it really such a hard concept to grasp?

  • Really?
    • Blame "European Space Agency (Esa) Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain" for that one. Its in the first hyperlink.
    • I just interpreted "UTC". Its pretty close anyway, and it just say "night", not any precise time in the summary.

  • The hopes of mankind rest in your capable hands. May your precious cargo of dehydrated ice-cream and liquified shepherds pie conquer the deadly thermosphere, dodging micro-meteorites and space junk to find your way to safety!
  • by Dr La ( 1342733 ) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @12:31PM (#39461027) Homepage
    I filmed the ATV 3 as it passed over Leiden, the Netherlands, in twilight this morning.

    The video can be seen here: []

    The spacecraft is quite bright, easily visible naked eye in a bright blue twilight sky.
  • call it a space ship, a vehicule, a cargo ship, call it anything you want but unless it has wheels, a boat hunk and is driven over a road, it's not a truck... we can't even get an elevator to space, let alone a highway

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      ok ill bite, why is a metal box being hurled though the air a shp then? it doesn't fucking float, its not traveling on water, it doesn't have propellers sails or a rudder ...

      • one of the definitions of "ship" include vessels for transport through air or outer space. The word comes from the old German scipfÄ, a cup. So the idea is closer to one of container.

    • Who said it was a tuck? Oh, you think ATV stands for All Terrain Vehicle when in fact it is Automated Transfer Vehicle.
      There is also the Agenda Target Vehicle which was an unmanned capsule to practice docking with in the Gemini program and Advanced Technology Vessel is also the name of the Indian's nuclear submarine development program which leads to Arihant Class which is supposed to be in harbor acceptance trails now for commissioning of a fleet of four by 2015.
      Maybe you need to learn the acronyms and a
    • by Dr Fro ( 169927 )

      Well, I'll let it go as long as it can tell us if there are any smokies to watch out for.

    • Apparently, the first known usage of "truck" was in 1611 when it referred to the small strong wheels on ships' cannon carriages.

      Ergo, what you pedantically think is a truck isn't a frickin truck either.

      Or, alternatively, we can enjoy the fact the the English language is a dynamic and malleable tool which we can use to our own ends. Thus we can call this a truck if we damn well want to, and stick our middle fingers up to the small-minded pedants and grammar nazi's who want to kill all the fucking crea
    • by eriqk ( 1902450 )

      it's not a truck...

      It's a series of tubes?

  • This is commercial towing vehicle Nostromo, do you copy?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launched with a Ariane 5 carrier rocket, it is the 'third such craft to be sent to the station by Esa (European Space Agency).

    Is what it said. A more literate sentence might have been:
    The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launched with an Ariane 5 carrier rocket. It is the 'third such craft to be sent to the station by Esa (European Space Agency).

    The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) launched with an Ariane 5 carrier rocket, the 'third such craft to be sent to the stat

  • Where are our tax dollars that was meant for NASA being channeled too. If this is the end of NASA they better dam well be making better use of the dollars they are saving.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Nothing is being saved. It all becomes just a bit less debt.
      I'll bet the TSA costs a lot more than NASA now. Unfortunately it's politically safer to rip money from NASA until the TSA squeezes the wrong balls.
  • Please wake me up when the quotation marks aren't needed.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.