ATV Johannes Kepler has been an important part of the International Space Station since February. Next week, it will complete its mission by undocking and burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere high over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean.
Serving the International Space Station is a valuable job but it will come to a spectacular end: ESA’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle, packed with Station rubbish, will deliberately plummet to its destruction on Tuesday in Earth’s atmosphere.
Just like the tonnes of natural space debris that collide with our planet every day, the 10-tonne ferry will burn up on reentry.
Only a few hardy pieces might survive and splash into the uninhabited South Pacific. The area’s air and sea traffic has been warned and a no-fly zone will prevent any accidents.