The first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) was launched to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket on 9 March 2008 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana. The European-built Jules Verne was named after the 19th-century French author and visionary who fascinated millions of young people and inspired space scientists and explorers with his extraordinary stories.
The combination of the Ariane 5 and ATV allowed Europe to transport its own payloads to the Station and carry propellants, gases and other logistics goods for use by the whole Station and its international partners. ATV missions represent the European share of Station operations, and enabled the delivery of experiments and scientific facilities to the European Columbus laboratory that was added to the Station in February 2008.
Ariane 5 twice used its upper stage engine to fine tune the orbit and release ATV to the trajectory leading towards the International Space Station. Ariane's mission ended 1 hours and 7 minutes after take-off when ATV separated from the upper stage.
After that, ATV was switched on, the propulsion system was primed, solar arrays deployed and GPS system was turned on.
After about 10 days in orbit, ATV positioned itself 2000 km away from Space Station to wait for Suttle mission STS-123 to end. Once the Space Shuttle departed and landed, Jules Verne left its parking orbit and approached the Space Station under the watchfull eye of the ATV Control Centre. Over the following days ATV demonstrated its capability to execute a Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre.
After a slow and careful approach ATV Jules Verne docked with Zvezda at 16:40 CET on 3 April 2008. The hooks attaching firmly the docking ports together were closed 17:14 CET. ATV was now permanently connected to Zvezda.
Having been part of the Space Station for six months, Jules Verne undocked on 5 September 2008 at 23:29 CET. The ATV then embarked on the last leg of its journey in space, which ended with a controlled destructive reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere on 29 September.