2008-03-09 - ATV Jules Verne launchEurope launches its first ATV to the ISS
"Jules Verne" mit Ariane zur Raumstation gestartet<br /> Jules Verne, the first of the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV), a new series of autonomous spaceships designed to re-supply and re-boost the International Space Station (ISS), was successfully launched into low Earth orbit by an Ariane 5 vehicle this morning.
During the coming weeks, it will manoeuvre in order to rendezvous and eventually dock with the ISS to deliver cargo, propellant, water and oxygen to the orbital outpost.
Lift-off occurred Sunday (9 March) at 05:03 CET (04:03 UT) from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This flight required a new version of Europe's workhorse launcher, the Ariane 5ES, specially adapted to the task of lofting the nearly 20-tonne vehicle more than twice as heavy as the previous largest Ariane 5 payload to a low circular orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the Equator and equipped with an upper stage with re-ignition capabilities.
Jules Verne ATV is now circling the Earth in the same orbital plane as the ISS but at an altitude of only 260 km, compared to 345 km for the Station. The vehicle is under constant monitoring by the dedicated ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France. Located within the premises of the French Space Agency CNES, the ATV Control Centre will ensure flight control throughout the mission in coordination with the ISS mission control centres in Moscow and Houston. After having demonstrated safety manoeuvres in free flight, the ATV will perform orbital 'phasing' manoeuvres in order to rendezvous with the ISS for a first docking slot scheduled for 3 April after the departure of NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Named after the famous French 19th century visionary and author, the Jules Verne ATV is the largest and most sophisticated spacecraft ever developed in Europe, combining the functions of an autonomous free-flying platform, a manoeuvrable space vehicle and a space station module. About 10 m high with a diameter of 4.5 m, it weighed 19,357 kg at launch. It incorporates a 45-m3 pressurised module, derived from the Columbus pressure shell, and a Russian-built docking system, similar to those used on Soyuz manned ferries and on the Progress re-supply ship. About three times larger than its Russian counterpart, it can also deliver about three times more cargo.