Jules Verne spaceship to end life in a ball of flames

September 29th, 2008 - 2:17 pm ICT by ANI  

London, September 29 (ANI): Jules Verne, Europes biggest, most sophisticated spaceship is about to bring its six-month mission to an end by plunging into the Pacific in a ball of flames.

According to a report by the BBC News, the Jules Verne freighter undocked from the space station three weeks ago packed with rubbish and will take its unwanted cargo into a destructive dive.

Most of vehicle is expected to burn up in the atmosphere; only fragments will make it down to the ocean water.

Two engine firings should bring the ship out of the sky, with the events overseen from the European Space Agencys (ESA) freighter control centre in Toulouse, France.

Mike Steinkopf, the mission director for re-entry, said that a safety zone has been drawn in the south Pacific some 2,700 km long by 200 km wide.

We issue a notification to the air traffic and maritime authorities to make sure there are no planes or boats going through that zone during our re-entry time, Steinkopf told BBC News.

Astronauts on the overflying International Space Station (ISS) and scientists in two chase planes will take pictures as the disintegrating mass of metal streaks through the morning Pacific darkness.

Visually, we will see what appears to be a very bright meteor, explained Jason Hatton from the chase team set by ESA and the US space agency (NASA). It will start as a point of light with a trail, and then as it comes apart, we will see fragments, he added.

Jules Verne, also known by the generic name Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), cost about 1.3 billion euros to develop.

Although ESA has produced many complex scientific satellites, none match the scale of the freighter.

After launch, the space truck can work out where it needs to go in space, and then makes a fully automatic docking once it arrives at its destination.

It was developed as part of ESAs ISS membership agreement, to haul cargo, propellant, water and oxygen to the space station; and also to provide propulsion capacity at the station.

Jules Verne is currently orbiting the Earth just below the space station at an altitude of about 330 km. (ANI)

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