e2v sensors help European spacecraft dock with space station

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On 23 March e2v imaging sensors were launched into space onboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Edoardo Amaldi spacecraft, the third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS).

The e2v CCD47-20 imaging sensors are used for the ATV’s star tracker, an optical device that determines spacecraft orientation by its position relative to stars, and a videometer, which is for ISS rendezvous and docking. The first and second ATVs, named Jules Verne and Johannes Kepler, were also equipped with these e2v imaging sensors.

e2v’s marketing manager, Jon Kemp said: ‘Edoardo Amaldi is the third ATV to have been successfully launched into space. e2v’s imaging sensors are a key component in enabling the ATVs to successfully dock with the ISS and provide essential support to the astronauts onboard.’

The Edoardo Amaldi, named after the Italian physicist and spaceflight pioneer, was carried into orbit onboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. The Amaldi carries almost 7,000kg of cargo to the ISS, 360km above the Earth. The ISS relies on frequent deliveries of equipment, spare parts, food, air and water for its permanent crew. 

The unmanned ATV is essential in delivering supplies to it and will stay attached to the station until the 27 August. The ATV fires its rocket to boost the station’s orbital altitude during its stay. After it undocks in August the ATV will be commanded to burn up in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.