e2v imaging sensors launched into space

Posted on 11 Jun 2013

Last April, e2v imaging sensors were launched into space on board the European Space Agency’s Albert Einstein spacecraft, the fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle to be sent to the International Space Station.

e2v CCD47-20 imaging sensors were selected by SODERN as part of the two key systems they delivered for the vehicle; an SED16 star tracker, an optical device used for determining the orientation of the spacecraft by measuring its position relative to stars, and a Videometer, the spacecraft’s docking sensor.

Built under Astrium prime contractorship, the first three ATVs (Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler and Edoardo Amaldi) were also equipped with these e2v imaging sensors and successfully completed their missions in 2008, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The Albert Einstein ATV was carried into orbit on board an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana and hauled almost 7 tonnes of cargo to the International Space Station 360 kilometres above the Earth. The spacecraft is equipped with its own propulsion and a high-precision navigation system. e2v imaging sensors will automatically guide it into dock at the ISS, helping in the approaching and docking maneuvers. These are so precise that, when 249 metres away from the ISS, the ATV will slow down to 7 centimetres a second.

e2v’s marketing manager, Jon Kemp, said: “Albert Einstein is the fourth ATV to have been launched into space. e2v’s imaging sensors are a key component in enabling the ATV to successfully dock with the ISS and provide essential wet and dry cargo to the astronauts on board.”

The ISS relies on frequent deliveries of equipment, fuel, spare parts, food, air and water for its permanent crew. The unmanned ATV is essential in delivering supplies to the ISS.

Once undocked, it will be commanded to burn up in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.