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23 March 2012

e2v imaging sensors launched into space on board the third unmanned spacecraft to be sent to the International Space Station

On 23rd March 2012, e2v high performance imaging sensors were launched into space on board the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Edoardo Amaldi spacecraft, the third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS).

e2v CCD47-20 imaging sensors were selected by SODERN as part of the two key systems they delivered for the ATV; 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, a system SODERN developed which is the primary rendezvous and docking sensor for the spacecraft.  Built under Astrium prime contractorship, the first and second ATVs (Jules Verne and Johannes Kepler) were also equipped with these e2v imaging sensors and successfully completed their missions in 2008 and 2011 respectively.

The Edoardo Amaldi ATV (named after the famous Italian physicist and spaceflight pioneer) was carried into orbit on board an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana and hauled almost 7 tonnes of cargo to the ISS 360 km above the Earth. The spacecraft is the most powerful automatic spaceship ever built and is equipped with its own propulsion and a high-precision navigation system, which uses e2v imaging sensors to automatically guide it into dock at the ISS. 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, providing reboost and attitude control until the 27th August 2012. It will then be undocked and commanded to burn up in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the southern Pacific Ocean.

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 on board.”

Artist’s view of ESA’s ATV

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Jessica Broom, Marketing Communication Manager
Tel: + 44 (0) 1 245 453 607


About e2v
e2v is a leading global provider of specialist technology for high performance systems and equipment; delivering solutions, sub-systems and components for specialist applications within medical & science, aerospace & defence, and commercial & industrial markets. e2v has its headquarters in the UK, employs approximately 1500 people, has design and production facilities across Europe and North America, and has a global network of sales and technical support offices. For the year ended 31 March 2011, e2v reported sales of £229m and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information visit