Thales Alenia Space has completed integration of the fourth Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC), which is the service module for the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) being built for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The fourth ATV has been delivered from Thales Alenia Space’s integration centre to the programme contractor Astrium in Bremen, Germany. The Albert Einstein ATV4 is scheduled for launch in early 2012 and will undergo a series of tests before it is delivered to the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana ready for launch to the International Space Station in early 2013.

Thales Alenia Space senior vice-president Luigi Quaglino said the company and especially the Turin plant is proud of the ATV, within the scope of its overall effort to increase ISS operational efficiency.

"With the space station’s service life now extended until 2020, requiring additional automated transfer modules, Thales Alenia Space will be building nine Pressurized Cargo Modules (PCM) for the Cygnus resupply vessels in the US. And we are already working onATV5," Quaglino said.

The fourth ICC module features a pressurised cylinder 4.6m in diameter and 4m long, and an ISS docking system at the front, as well as a 0.7m-long, non-pressurised area including the refuelling system and the water and oxygen supply tanks. The ICC module also incorporates sensors, antenna and parts of the attitude-control thrusters for navigation, in addition to the ISS docking phase and all docking-related electronic control equipment.

The unmanned ATV will automatically dock with the space station to transfer experimental equipment, spare parts, food, air and water for the crew. It will also carry 3t of cargo in the pressurised ICC module, over 2t of propellants to reboost the International Space Station into its nominal orbit, 860kg of propellant to be transferred to the ISS, up to 300kg of water and over 100kg of gases.

The ISS crew will look after the cargo transfer operations of the ATV and will also be monitored using tools developed by Thales Alenia Space. The equipment for ICC4 is modified from the elements employed on Russia’s Progress and Soyuz launch vehicles and was provided by RSC-Energia.

The first ATV, Jules Verne, was launched in 2008, the Johannes Kepler ATV2 was launched in February 2011 and the Edoardo Amaldi ATV3 is scheduled to be launched this year.