The supply carrier named after French visionary writer Jules Verne, has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS). There are still four other European vessels to follow.
A European supply vessel carrying more than 5 tonnes of freight has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday in a major advance for Europe's space programme.
Officials of the European Space Agency (ESA) said the docking of Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) at 1455 GMT was flawless when it eased into place without any intervention from astronauts in the space station.
Dubbed "Jules Verne" in honour of the visionary 19th century French science fiction writer, officials are counting on the ATV programme, in which $2 billion has been invested so far, to open the way to further European space exploration.
"One of the strategic reasons why the ESA was so keen to have its own ATV was that this technology is exactly the kind you need to go and rendezvous with Mars," said John Ellwood, ESA's ATV project manager in a Web cast transmission before the docking.
"We are going to have to have automatic rendezvous and docking near Mars. And ATV shows that the technology works and that we can do it in Europe," Ellwood said.
Date created : 2008-04-03