Automated Transfer Vehicle – Jules Verne

Spaceships are getting smarter and smarter… oops… I mean the humans who created them.

Currently the “visitor” at International Space Station (ISS) is Jules Verne, European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).  This robotic cargo uses it own onboard intelligence and optical sensors for navigation, becoming the first spacecraft to perform a fully-automated docking with the ISS.  Human guidance is not required here!

Jules Verne

Jules Verne historic first fully-automated docking with the ISS takes place on 3 April 2008, smoothly and safely.  It was launched on March 9 on board an Arianne 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana.  The docking on April 3 ends a 26-day journey for Jules Verne.  Jules Verne is seen here backdropped by the airglow of Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space.
Jules Verne cylindrical body is 10.3 m long with a diameter of 4.5 m.  The solar arrays span 22.3 m.

Jules Verne carried around 8.3 tonnes of wet and dry cargo with an additional 2.3 tonnes of cargo support hardware to ISS.  Among the cargo are 500 kg of food and 270 kg of water for the crews, 80 kg of clothing and 20 kg of oxygen.

Apart from delivering cargo to ISS, this cargo ship will also re-boosts the station to a higher altitude to compensate for the atmospheric drag, where the Station’s natural altitude loss can reach up to several hundreds of metres a day.

Jules Verne will remain attached as a pressurised and integral part of ISS until August.  Eventually when it is leaving in August, it will take away a substantial load of garbage from the station.  After that, it will start a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere during which it will break up and burn, together with all the garbage from the station.

From 2008 onward, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will be one of the indispensable ISS supply spaceships.   Jules Verne is the first in a series of ATV that will prove crucial to ISS operations after the space shuttle retires in 2010.

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~ by thChieh on April 8, 2008.

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