ATV Re-entry Video

Article written: 30 Sep , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

A spectacular video recorded on September 29 shows the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (A T V)plunging through Earth’s atmosphere and breaking apart. It doesn’t take long for the action to start — about 7 seconds into the video, there’s a bright flash — which portrays the demise of the first and very successful space station freighter ship built by the European Space Agency. Two observation teams were chasing Jules Verne, in two separate aircraft, taking video and images. This video shows the spacecraft breaking up over the Pacific Ocean beginning at about 15:36 CEST. Below are more images, too:

Jules Verne launched on March 9, 2008 on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The ATV delivered 6 tonnes of cargo to the International Space Station, and remained docked to the ISS for five months. During docked operations, it also performed a maneuver to help the ISS avoid a piece of space debris. For more info on Jules Verne see some of our past articles here (yesterday’s article about the deorbit), or here, describing about how great it was, and here, when it pulled into port at the ISS.

Here’s a few images of the breakup, and farther below is an image of the interior of Jules Verne as it was docked to the ISS, and finally, an image of the ATV as it undocked from the station on Sept. 5. Au revoir Jules Verne!

A shower of debris results as the ATV continues its plunge through the atmosphere.  Credit: ESA

A shower of debris results as the ATV continues its plunge through the atmosphere. Credit: ESA

Expedition 16 and 17 crewmembers inside Jules Verne ATV. Jules Verne is Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle. Jules Verne docked with the International Space Station on 3 April 2008.  Credit: NASA

Expedition 16 and 17 crewmembers inside Jules Verne ATV. Jules Verne is Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle. Jules Verne docked with the International Space Station on 3 April 2008. Credit: NASA

ATV after it undocked from the ISS on Sept. 5. Credit:  NASA

ATV after it undocked from the ISS on Sept. 5. Credit: NASA

Source: ESA

14 Responses

  1. Jorge says


    Even fully aware that this has to be done this way in the current state of our technology, and that Jules Verne’s fiery demise is generating useful data for the future of space travel as a whole, seing this does resonate with the sadness synapses up here in my attic.

    Oh well… so long Jules. You’ve been a wonderful space ship.

  2. The Occupant says

    Wow, thats really. . .pretty. It’s like a really long fire works display. I am glad science got done, and we got a pretty light show as well out of it.
    To paraphrase what Joe Kerwin said to the Apollo 13 LM, Farewell, Jules Verne, and we thank you.

  3. Sili says

    Expensive fireworks, but at least it was pretty.

    And it’s more of an adieu. I doubt we’ll be seeing it again.

  4. David says

    Basterds dumping your crap in our oceans who said you could?? THe whole world does NOT belong to the USA.

    Pollution, Damaging the atmosphere? Noone over there cares Huh?

    Bloody yanks

  5. triskelyn says

    Where is video link ?

    It doesn’t show anywhere for someone using a Pocket PC w/WM6.1 and IE Mobile.

    All other mentioned links appear to be present.

    A verified mobile version of this website may be warranted. If I’ve just missed it (either the link, or the mobile version) please let me know.

    I visit this site every day for interesting timely science/space information.


  6. Jon Hanford says

    @ David, Jules Verne was built and launched by the European Space Agency, as mentioned in the article( did you bother to read it?). It was ESA’s mission plan all along to perform a controlled reentry of their vehicle. Check your facts before going off. As for European members of ESA, congrats to all for the fine, flawless first mission of the Jules Verne. I’m sure many American space enthusiasts, myself included, closely followed this historic mission. For such a complex vehicle to perform such a demanding mission(its’ first!) speaks highly of Europe’s expertise in aeronautics.

  7. The Occupant says

    David, quick question. What WOULD you have them do with it?
    Let go and allowed to orbit? Eventually it would have come down anyway, and in an uncontrolled reentry, just as much pollution, and much more danger. And while it was doing that, it would make yet another piece of space debris, which place astronauts, cosmonauts and taikonauts in danger, not to mention the many commercial, scientific, and government satellites.
    Kept attached to the ISS, it not only would add to the mass of the station, making additional orbital maneuvers use more fuel, it would take up a docking port, that may be needed in an emergency. Pick your option.
    Besides, this was the ESA who did this, not the ‘bloody yanks’.

  8. Jorge says

    Wha?! I, a citizen of an ESA-member nation, am now a bloody yank too?

    Hey! I wanna vote for Obama! Where do I sign up?


  9. alandee says

    It was spectacular from down here in Adelaide South Australia, although not quite as speccy as the video !

    There’s not a lot of ways around it, but, It seems a shameful waste of materials and resource in an age where I recycle my cardboard, glass and plastics etc ..

  10. Edward says

    It does seem to be an terrible waste of material. Why not take it apart or collapse it down before returning it by space shuttle. They do come back empty don’t they.

  11. dollhopf says

    The Question of “Space Junk” and the Electrical Power Supply of the ISS.

    Power supply is crucial to the operation of the ISS. Since November 2000 the photovoltaic (PV) module supports electric power demands of the station and its three member crew:

    “Existing electrical supplies primarily are being used to run oxygen generation, carbon dioxide removal, water production and other systems essential to keeping the station crew alive in the deadly vacuum of space.”[1]

    In this context a panorama snapshot of the ISS by the STS-124 shuttle crew reveals something amazing.[2] On the picture one can see the ATV docked at the same time on the Zvezda aft port, a Progress M-64 on the Zarya nadir port and behind it a Soyuz TMA.

    The three ships are provided with altogether 8 solar panels with an estimated total area of more than 30 square meters (nearly 10 percent of the ISS PV module area).[3],[4]

    The problem is that these solar arrays were not designed for further use. Neither in their quality nor in the way how they were mounted. These valuable material is declared as “space junk”. It is agreed to be burned up in the atmosphere.

    One can see clearly that “space junk” is not necessarilly distributed all over the orbit (as you assumed in an earlier commend, DaveS). No, it is directly at the front door of the ISS. It is in reach of an EVA and of the robotic arm. There are regularly flights of Progress and Soyuz to the ISS (Progress meanwhile about 25 times). They all arrive with additional potential power supply. Meanwhile there was more solar panel “junk” burned up than the whole PV module comprisses (375 m²).

    I don’t know what their electricity bill is, but I guess it could be less.

    [1] Endeavour Crew to Spread ISS Solar Wings,


    [3] Automated Transfer Vehicle,

    [4] Soyuz TMA,

  12. JoMama says

    David …

    Rest easy. As every europeeing knows – US ‘yanks’ are full of it … and we take it with us …. all that crap dumped by the JV was from visiting ESA asstronaughts.

    Lighten up ‘francis’ ….


  13. shunt36 says

    omg this is soo cool i am fasinated by the entire thingii


  14. dickman says

    This was so cool. It was sad to see it go. Does anyone know the tune that was played in the video? It was so touching and appropriate to the Jules Verne’s final moments.

Comments are closed.