Before Orion’s European Service Module was ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) that flew five missions to the International Space Station bringing cargo, fuel, oxygen and boosting the Station to higher orbits, at the end of each mission ATV was packed with waste to be incinerated harmlessly as each spacecraft burnt up in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The first ATV mission, Jules Verne, was launched 9 March 2008 on an Ariane 5 rocket and demonstrated ESA’s first human-rated spacecraft.
Ten years ago today ATV-1 undocked from the International Space Station after a flawless mission replenishing the Station’s supplies. The technology behind the Automated Transfer Vehicles evolved into the service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft and this anniversary reminded us of the unfinished ATV competition we ran last April.
And the winner is… @Gastonsfriend!
Mine is the Georges Lemaître ATV5 the final ATV mission which also coincided with my retirement and me picking up Space as a passionate interest. Living in the South of France and spotting the ISS travelling overhead has led to so much reading and investigation. @AstroSamantha
— Susan Lloyd (Emma B.) (@Gastonsfriend) April 5, 2018
The good news is that we decided to award everyone who supplied a somewhat valid answer with a small prize (we found some vintage ATV stickers in the cupboard) but there can only be one winner of the smallest book ever produced by ESA. Thanks for playing along, it made our week to see so many people remember aspects of the ATV missions!