Lift-off for Europe's first resupply ship

Europe’s biggest contribution to space technology, the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV), has been successfully launched into low earth orbit. The launch vehicle, an Ariane 5
rocket, was carrying its largest ever payload when it achieved lift-off from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.

During the coming weeks the Jules Verne ATV will rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver fuel and food supplies for the astronauts onboard the ISS.

The spacecraft is named after the French 19th century visionary and author and combines the functions of an autonomous free-flying platform, a manoeuvrable space vehicle and a space station
module. It is about 10 metres high and 4.5 metres in diameter and weighed 19 357 kilograms at launch. The ATV is an unmanned cargo re-supply spacecraft with high accuracy navigation systems and
flight software of far greater complexity than used for Ariane. The cargo vessel has been developed so that deliveries can continue to be made to the ISS following the retirement of NASA’s
space shuttle fleet in 2010. The ATV incorporates a Russian-built docking system, similar to those used on the Russian Soyuz-manned spacecraft and on the Progress re-supply ship. About three
times larger than its Russian counterpart, it can also deliver about three times more cargo.

The ATV has been under development since 1998 and forms the European Space Agency’s (ESA) contribution to the operational costs of the ISS. During this first mission Jules Verne will deliver
4.6 tonnes of payload to the ISS, including oxygen, fuel, food, water and clothes for the ISS crew of three astronauts. About half the payload onboard the vehicle is re-boost propellant. This
will be used by its own propulsion system for periodic manoeuvres to boost the ISS into a higher orbit. Once docking has been safely completed the crew of the ISS will be able to enter the
cargo module to access the cargo. Jules Verne will remain docked for up to six months, during which time it will be filled with waste from the ISS. One it has fulfilled its mission, the vehicle
will be thrust back towards Earth, where it will burn up in the atmosphere in a fully controlled manner.

Beyond Jules Verne, the ESA has already contracted industry to produce four more ATVs to be launched through to 2015. With both the ESA’s ATV and the Russian Progress supply ship the ISS will
have two independent servicing systems to ensure its operations once the US space shuttle stops flying in 2010. The Japanese HTV (H-II transfer Vehicle) will also enter operations in 2009,
further ensuring the systems overall reliability. ‘Last month, with the docking of Columbus (the European space laboratory), Europe got its own flat in the ISS building, with the launch of the
first ATV, we now have our own delivery truck. We have become co-owners of the ISS, now we are about to become fully- fledged partners in running it. With the ATV we will be servicing the ISS
by delivering cargo and providing orbital reboost,’ said Daniel Sacotte, the ESA’s Director for Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration.

‘The launch of Jules Verne by Ariane 5 ES marks an important step on the way to ESA becoming an indispensable ISS partner with the ATV, the heaviest and most complex spacecraft ever built by
ESA’, underlined Jean-Jaques Dordain, ESA’s Director General. The successful development of the ATV is the result of close cooperation between Member States, European industry, Arianespace, the
French space agency (CNES), the ESA and international partners.

For further information, please visit:
https://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/ATV/index.html

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