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The Jules Verne ATV(Automated Transfer Vehicle) was an unmanned cargo resupply spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency(ESA) on March 9, 2008. Its sole mission was to dock and resupply the International Space Station(ISS). The Jules Verne was the first ATV, so it underwent three weeks of orbital testing before docking with the ISS on April 3, 2008. The ATV was also used to boost the station into a higher orbit. The spacecraft remained docked to the ISS for 5 months before being allowed to burn up during reentry of Earth’s atmosphere.
The Jules Verne ATV was launched atop an Ariane 5ES rocket. After reaching low Earth orbit the spacecraft separated from the carrier rocket and its navigation systems were activated. Two days later the four main engines were fired, beginning several orbital insertion boosts. During the pre-dock phase of the mission there were two glitches encountered: a Propulsion Drive Electronics (PDE) unit reported an issue with the mixing pressure between the fuel and the oxidizer and some shell heaters were more active than anticipated. Visual inspection from the space station confirmed that some thermal blankets had partially detached.
Prior to docking, several on-orbit tests were performed to confirm that the spacecraft could safely approach and dock with the ISS. The ATV successfully underwent Collision Avoidance Maneuver (CAM) tests and two docking demonstration tests(demo days). The final docking with the aft port of the Zvezda service module was performed by a fully automated system using GPS and optical sensors, including a videometer and telegoniometer. At 249 m from the space station, the docking procedure was guided by a videometer. The videometer fired laser pulses at cube-shaped reflectors on the Zvezda module. The telegoniometer functioned like a radar system. The ATV successfully docked with the ISS on April 3, 2008. After docking and leak checks were conducted, the ISS crew was able to enter the pressurized cargo module and access the cargo. The ATV’s liquid tanks were connected to the ISS, and their contents were transferred to the station. The crew manually released air components directly into the ISS’s atmosphere. The crew gradually filled the ATV with waste material prior to undocking.
The Jules Verne ATV successfully undocked on September 5,2008 then moved 5 km from the ISS in insure a crash would be avoided during reentry. On September 29, 2008, the ATV fired a de-orbit boost, burning up in Earth’s atmosphere shortly after.
We have written many articles about Jules Verne ATV for Universe Today. Check them out:
ATV Jules Verne Boosts Space Station to Higher Orbit (Video)
Goodbye Jules Verne: ATV Undocks From Station
If you’d like more info on Jules Verne ATV, check out these articles:
ESA: Jules Verne ATV
Jules Verne ATV prepares for le voyage extraordinaire
We’ve recorded episodes of Astronomy Cast which you might be interested in. Listen here, Episode 100: Rockets.