First human-rated spacecraft readied for maiden voyage

The European Space Agency has announced that its first human-rated spacecraft is being prepared for a February launch from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the mission of the
Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), called Jules Verne, is to supply the permanent crew of the International Space Station (ISS) with experimental equipment and spare parts as well as food, air
and water.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the pressurised module of the most complex automated spacecraft ever developed in Europe has been inspected and closed ahead of its maiden voyage
scheduled for 22 February.

‘In order to eliminate any risk of disease or contamination for the astronauts on board the ISS, we have disinfected all the surfaces inside the pressurised module with pure hydrogen peroxide,’
said Patrice Amadieu, the ESA’s ATV Deputy Project Manager. ‘Even if it is launched unmanned, ‘Jules Verne’ respects all the human spacecraft safety requirements. This also applies to the seven
tonnes of cargo carried into orbit.’

Over the last week, the spacecraft’s tanks were filled with about 268 litres of drinking water for the ISS astronauts. The water from the municipal water supply in Turin, Italy, will eventually
be transferred to the space station’s Russian Service Module.

‘The fact that, for the first time, drinking water will be carried into orbit by a European cargo spaceship for the ISS crew brings a great sense of satisfaction,’ said Pierre Rebeyre, ESA’s
Manager of Life Support System Development.

The ATV will remain docked with the Station’s Russian service module for up to six months. Once this supply mission is accomplished, the Jules Verne will finish off with a one-way trip into the
Earth’s atmosphere to dispose of up to 6.5 tonnes of Station waste.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a joint research project between the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (RKA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and European countries (ESA).
Its projected completion date is 2010, with the station remaining in operation until around 2016.

One of the main goals of the ISS is to provide a place to conduct experiments that require one or more of the unusual conditions present on the station. The main fields of research include
biology (including biomedical research and biotechnology), physics (including fluid physics, materials science, and quantum physics), astronomy (including cosmology), and meteorology.

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