The Jules Verne, the first European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle, docked to the aft port of the International Space Station’s Zvezda Service Module at 10:45 a.m. EDT Thursday.
The unpiloted cargo spacecraft carries more than 7,500 pounds of equipment, supplies, water, fuel and gases for the station.
It also carries hopes and aspirations of the European Space Agency. The ATV and its advanced rendezvous system could play an important role in future space exploration.
The Jules Verne docked smoothly using its automated, laser guided rendezvous system. It was in many respects a repeat of the dry run on Monday. That practice approach brought the ATV to within 36 feet of the docking port.
After the successful docking, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin responded, “I am incredibly proud of and pleased for our European partners with this demonstration of a successful automated docking of the ATV cargo vehicle with the ISS. Only Russia has previously achieved a successful automated docking in space. This accomplishment showcases yet again the progress which has been made by the international partnership in bringing this incredible program to fruition. Together with the arrival of the Columbus Module at the ISS earlier this year, the success of the ATV marks the arrival of Europe as a full-fledged space power. I applaud their achievement.”