brings us a story about the European Space Agency's successful launch of a new type of cargo ship
to resupply the ISS. The first Automated Transport Vehicle
(ATV), named after Jules Verne, is the "very first spacecraft in the world designed to conduct automated docking in full compliance with the very tight safety constraints imposed by human spaceflight operations." Among other things, it carries water, oxygen, and propellant to help boost the ISS to a higher orbit. We recently discussed NASA's need for a new cargo transport system
"Beyond Jules Verne, ESA has already contracted industry to produce four more ATVs to be flown through to 2015. With both ESA's ATV and Russia's Progress, the ISS will be able to rely on two independent servicing systems to ensure its operations after the retirement of the US space shuttle in 2010. 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."