ATV-2 bears the name 'Johannes Kepler'
In Bremen on Tuesday 7 July 2009, the second European space transporter, ATV-2 - developed in association with, and with the support of, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – was presented to the public. It was officially given the name of the German astronomer and scholar Johannes Kepler.
In connection with the naming ceremony, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Astrium GmbH signed a contract for studying the further development of ATV technology. The Advanced Re-entry Vehicle (ARV) will have, in contrast to the ATV, the capability of performing a controlled re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. The goal is that ARV should enable the return of freight and experiments from the ISS to Earth.
The European ATV space vehicles are carried into space by Ariane 5 ES launch vehicles and give the European spaceflight programme increased independence. The development of ARV would secure the operation and provisioning of the ISS. This will become important after the cessation of the NASA Space Shuttle program in 2010, when provisioning of the ISS will become dependent on the Russian Cosmodrome at Baikonur.
European contribution to the provisioning of the space station
Among others, the event was attended by the Chairman of the DLR Executive Board, Prof. Dr-Ing Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency, Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, Simonetta Di Pippo, the Mayor of Bremen, Jens Böhrnsen, and the head of the space transport division at EADS Astrium, Alain Charmeau. Frank de Winne, the first European commander of the International Space Station (ISS), was also involved in the event.
The ATV-2 'Johannes Kepler' is currently being completed at Astrium in Bremen and is scheduled to lift off in November 2010 from Kourou, French Guiana, en route to the ISS. These ATV flights are the European contribution towards keeping the ISS provisioned. The bulk of Europe's share of the ISS operating costs is being met through these practical contributions rather than through foreign currency payments to NASA. Following the successful and spectacular premiere of the ATV-1 'Jules Verne' on 9 March 2008, a further four ATV flights are scheduled between now and 2013.