First European space freighter 'buried' in the Pacific

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Europe's first automated cargo spacecraft, the Jules Verne, has been successfully "buried" in the Pacific after spending over five months docked with the ISS, the European Space Agency said Monday.
MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - Europe's first automated cargo spacecraft, the Jules Verne, has been successfully "buried" in the Pacific after spending over five months docked with the ISS, the European Space Agency said Monday.

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) was launched aboard an Ariane-5 rocket on March 9 from the Kourou space center in French Guiana and carried over 7.5 metric tons of supplies and fuel to the International Space Station (ISS).

"According to our telemetric data, after the controlled destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere the remaining fragments fell into a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific," the ESA liaison officer in Moscow told RIA Novosti.

The Jules Verne is Europe's largest spacecraft to contribute to the ISS program. Built by a space consortium led by the European aerospace group EADS, the ATV carries three times the cargo of Russia's Progress spacecraft and is expected to become the main space freighter supplying the ISS in the future.

Named after a famous 19th-century French science-fiction writer, the spacecraft remained docked to the Russian Zvezda module for five months and three days and was used for temporary storage and as a booster to readjust the ISS orbit.

On September 5, Jules Verne undocked and maneuvered to an orbital position 5 km below the ISS. It remained in its orbit until September 29.

According to ESA, at 10:00 GMT Jules Verne started its first de-orbit engine firing, lasting six minutes, followed by a 15-minute second firing at 12:58 GMT. At 13:31 GMT Jules Verne had re-entered the atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km, and then completed the destructive re-entry over the next 12 minutes.

ESA earlier said that the second European ATV would be launched to the ISS at the end of 2009-beginning 2010.

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