PORTLAND, Ore. The world's first space tugboat--the "Jules Verne" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)--is scheduled for launch next month aboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle at the European Space Agency spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The 20-ton unmanned space tugboat is designed to resupply the International Space Station, delivering supplies like air, water and food as well as spare parts, equipment and experiment modules.
The Jules Verne was built by Astrium, an aerospace subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., and will be placed in orbit 250 miles above the Earth. Launch is scheduled for March 8.
|Artists rendering of the Jules Verne ATV, the world's first unmanned space tugboat capable of hauling nine tons of cargo.
The fully automated vehicle will dock with the International Space Station to transfer its cargo using the Russian Service Module entrance. It is expected to make its first delivery in April after a series of maneuvers designed to demonstrate its automated navigation abilities.
The Jules Verne will remain attached to the Space Station for six months, during which astronauts will reload it with 6.3 tons of waste material, after which it will reenter the Earth's atmosphere where it will burn up.