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Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 workhorse has been given the go-ahead for Flight VA219 – a record mission carrying Europe’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

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The Sunshield on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory—five layers of thin membrane that must unfurl reliably in space to precise tolerances. Last week, for the first time, engineers stacked and unfurled a full-sized test unit of the Sunshield and it worked perfectly.
The Sunshield is about the length of a tennis court, and will be folded up like an umbrella around the Webb telescope’s mirrors and instruments during launch. Once it reaches its orbit, the Webb telescope will receive a command from Earth to unfold, and separate the Sunshield’s five layers into their precisely stacked arrangement with its kite-like shape.
The Sunshield test unit was stacked and expanded at a cleanroom in the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California.
The Sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold side where the sunshine is blocked from interfering with the sensitive infrared instruments. The infrared instruments need to be kept very cold (under 50 K or -370 degrees F) to operate.   The Sunshield protects these sensitive instruments with an effective sun protection factor or SPF of 1,000,000 (suntan lotion generally has an SPF of 8-50).
In addition to providing a cold environment, the Sunshield provides a thermally stable environment. This stability is essential to maintaining proper alignment of the primary mirror segments as the telescope changes its orientation to the sun.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
For more information about the Webb telescope, visit:  www.jwst.nasa.gov or www.nasa.gov/webb
For more information on the Webb Sunshield, visit:  http://jwst.nasa.gov/sunshield.html
Photo Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
Rob Gutro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (left) during training, at the Building 9’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF). at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on 2 July 2014.

The training catalog includes about 200 different SVMF classes to prepare astronauts in how to respond to just about any issue or emergency in orbit.

Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the ISS, scheduled for November 2014 and as part of Expedition 42/43.

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (left) and Russian astronaut Alexander Samokutyaev (right) during training, at the Building 9’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF). at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on 2 July 2014.

The training catalog includes about 200 different SVMF classes to prepare astronauts in how to respond to just about any issue or emergency in orbit.

Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the ISS, scheduled for November 2014 and as part of Expedition 42/43.

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti during training, at the Building 9’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF), at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on 2 July 2014.

The training catalog includes about 200 different SVMF classes to prepare astronauts in how to respond to just about any issue or emergency in orbit.

Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the ISS, scheduled for November 2014 and as part of Expedition 42/43.

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti using the virtual reality hardware to rehearse some of her duties for a mission to the International Space Station, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on 30 June 2014.

Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the ISS, scheduled for November 2014 and as part of Expedition 42/43.

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ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti trains for her robotic arm duties at the Virtual Reality Lab, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, on 30 June 2014.

Samantha Cristoforetti is assigned to fly on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the ISS, scheduled for November 2014 and as part of Expedition 42/43.

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The ESA logo is added to the fairing for Ariane 5 flight VA219, which is  set to carry ATV Georges Lemaître into orbit. Launch of the fifth  Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV-5, from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is scheduled for 23:44 UTC on 29 July (01:44 CEST; 30 July).

ATV-5 is set to carry almost 6.6 tonnes of supplies to the Station, including a record amount of dry cargo – around 2682 kg.  

Follow the launch campaign on the ATV Blog: http://blogs.esa.int/atv/

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ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) are an essential contribution by Europe to running the International Space Station.

Naming the fifth after Belgian scientist Georges Lemaître continues the tradition of drawing on great European visionaries to reflect Europe’s deep roots in science, technology and culture.
The name, proposed by Belgium’s delegation to ESA, was endorsed on 14–15 February by the ESA Programme Board responsible for Space Station matters during a meeting at ESA Headquarters in Paris.

ESA’s fifth and last Automated Transfer Vehicle, Georges Lemaître, will deliver more than 2600 kg of dry cargo to the International Space Station; its launch is set for summer 2014 on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The Space Station depends on regular deliveries of experiment equipment and spare parts, as well as food, air and water for its crew.
Since 2008, every year and a half, an ATV has delivered about 6 tonnes of cargo some 400 km above Earth.
After launch on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, ATV automatically navigates to a precision docking with the Station’s Russian Zvezda module.
It remains attached to the ISS for up to six months before reentering the atmosphere and deliberately burning up together with several tonnes of Station waste.

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