Jules Verne spacecraft burns on re-entry

The European Space Agency’s first Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Jules Verne, ended its six-month mission Monday by burning while entering Earth’s atmosphere.

The controlled destructive re-entry occurred over an uninhabited area of the South Pacific, the ESA said, when the spacecraft entered the atmosphere at an altitude of about 75 miles and then broke up approximately 47 miles above the water, with the remaining fragments falling into the Pacific 12 minutes later.

Following its March 9 launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the ATV delivered 6 tons of cargo to the International Space Station, where it remained docked for five months.

During its mission, the ATV conducted an automatic rendezvous and docking, four ISS re-boosts to a higher orbital altitude to offset atmospheric drag, ISS attitude control, a collision-avoidance maneuver when fragments of an old satellite came within the station’s vicinity and, during its final journey, offloading 2 1/2 tons of waste.

“Europe has now taken a further step toward its capability of being able to transport and return cargo and astronauts to and from space and helping to define the global picture for human spaceflight from the ISS to future exploration activities,” ESA officials said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

from Arcamax Science and Technology e-Zine, 10-01-2008

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