ATV-2 Departs Station Ahead of Progress 43

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A European unmanned cargo tug departed the international space station June 20, clearing the way for the arrival of a supply-laden Russian Progress 43 vehicle that lifted off from Kazakhstan the next day.

The European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)-2 plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere as planned June 21 to end its months-long mission to the space station. The spacecraft, dubbed Johannes Kepler after the 17th century German astronomer, was equipped with a Re-entry Breakup Recorder to collect information on the vehicle’s position, attitude, temperature and pressure as it broke up over the southern Pacific Ocean. The information is meant to help engineers better understand aspects of controlled destructive re-entries.