Jules Verne has arrived at the International Space Station

Yes – it is true …

The first ATV – Automatic Transfer Vehicle – has arrived and doced with the ISS. The name given to this ATV is “Jules Verne” , honouring the famous author (1828 – 1905) of old Science fiction classics like “Around the World in 80 Days”, “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, “From the Earth to the Moon” and “20.000 Leagues Under the Sea”.

The ATV is a European contribution to the ISS, along with the Columbus module – launched with the Space Shuttle and added to the ISS in February. The spacecraft pioneers the use of automatic docking, absolutely no human intervention. Only option would be to break off the docking procedure with a “go away” order. The ATV is designed to transport supplies to the station , and – as its final act – be filled with the garbage from the station and sent back into the Earth’s atmosphere. We could call it a cargo ship and an advanced garbage truck – combined with an incinerator.

Another function of the ATV is as a booster for increasinf the orbital altitude of the ISS, since the station is slowly being dragged towards a lower orbit due to that fact that there is still a *tiny* amount of atmosphere up there.

Read more about the ATV here

Last year I went with a friend to visit ESTEC’s space exhibition in The Netherlands. During a tour of the Estec facilities we got to see the Columbus module and the ATV, as they were being tested at the time. Nice to have seen real life spacecraft – knowing that both the station module and the ATV are safely orbiting the Earth.

More info at ESA’s website

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