Toulouse - Prototype Automated Transfer Vehicle Jules Verne continues to impress ESA designers and ground controllers.
During a seven minute burn, Friday, the ESA's ATV performed a flawless second boost manuver since docking on the Russian Zvezda module in March, raising the ISS complex 7 kilometers to 345 kilometers.
The 300 metric ton International Space Station loses ~300 feet in altitude from atmospheric drag each day, and must recieve a regular boost to maintain orbital velocity, either from a visiting Space Shuttle, Progress or the nominally functional boosters, with limited fuel, on Zvezda. Now the increasingly real-world proven capabilities of ESA has been demonstrated once again in a banner year marked by repeated successful launches of its Arianne V heavy-lift from Kourou.
"We should have at least one more reboost in July and two in August," said Hervé Côme, ESA's ATV Mission Director at the ATV Control Centre.
The Jules Verne is scheduled to retire from ISS in September, departing with 6.5 metric tonnes of debris and be destroyed on re-entry over the South Pacific. But the better than hoped for performance of the prototype has encouraged boldness in the ESA to transform the ATV into a manned spacecraft, in direct competition with NASA-contractor SpaceX and the Commercial Orbital Transfer System under development in the United States.
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