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Europe's new space cargo ship heads to launch site

点击量:   时间:2017-12-11 05:02:08

By David Shiga (Image: ESA/A Le Floc'h) The European Space Agency’s Jules Verne automated cargo ship has begun the journey to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The ship will deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Jules Verne is the first in a series of Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) that ESA plans to launch to the space station. It has been undergoing final testing at the European Space and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Now, Jules Verne has been loaded in pieces into containers ahead of its journey to ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The ATV weighs 20 tonnes and is the size of a double-decker bus. It can carry 7.5 tonnes of cargo to the space station. The containers were to be driven 5 kilometres to a nearby harbour beginning at 1930 GMT on Friday, where they were to be loaded on two barges for transport to Rotterdam harbour. On Tuesday, they are expected to set sail from Rotterdam aboard a French ocean-going vessel called the MN Toucan en route to Kourou, a journey that will take 11 days. Jules Verne will launch from the spaceport there in early 2008. “Our job is not finished until we have delivered everything to the S5 Building [at the spaceport] without one single scratch,” says Stefan Brosze, ESA’s ATV transportation manager. “Only then will we crack open the champagne.” The ATV is intended to ferry supplies such as food, water and fuel to the space station as well as equipment and experiments. Among the items that will fly on the first flight is an MP3 player for the space station crew loaded with songs suggested by the winner of an ESA contest. The ATV can also use its engines to boost the space station’s orbit, something normally done by the US space shuttle. While it is docked, it will provide extra work space for the crew. After six months, it will depart with a cargo of waste from the space station and burn up in the atmosphere. Jules Verne was originally meant to launch in 2004,