Thursday, February 24, 2011

ESA ATV-2 docks with ISS

ATV-2 on final approach.

EUropean Space Agency's ATV-2, the Johannes Kepler, has successfully docked at the International Space Station this morning. Using a combination of remote controls and its own autoguidance system, the cargo pod safely approached the station and finally was secured to the end of the Zvesda module on ISS.

ATV-2 location on the right.

The large cargo spacecraft is delivering crew supplies, oxygen, propellant, and research supplies. Enough of the propellant is reserved for using the ATV-2's engines to boost the ISS to a slightly higher orbit. Keep in mind that the solar wind helps to push the ISS lower and lower over long periods of time. The old Skylab station was eventually pushed into a burn-up de-orbit because of this.

ATV-2 hidden behind Zvesda solar panel on left. Two Soyuz or Progress vehicles can also be seen docked to ISS.

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