With the announcement of the ATV-based Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, ATV’s future is looking very good. The spacecraft’s distinctive X-wing solar panels have managed to survive over the years and seem set to be part of the Orion MPCV in 2017.

Below is a scan from an ESA document from 1998 entitled European Participation in the International Space Station. At the time ESA’s  Human Spaceflight & Operations directorate was called Manned Spaceflight & Microgravity while ATV was still in the so-called B2 phase of development – nothing had been built yet.

Spot the differences between one of the original concepts, a real ATV and the latest Orion concept art below.

Past… Credits: ESA


Present… Credits: ESA



And future. Credits: ESA-D. Ducros (flipped for better comparison)