Over thirty international media representatives witnessed yesterday the
christening of the first Automated Transfer Vehichle at ESA/ ESTEC. Due
for launch in late 2004, the first spaceship has been named “Jules Verne”
in honour of the 19th century French author who fascinated the minds of
million of young people and inspired space scientists and explorers with
his extraordinary voyages: From the Earth to the Moon, 20.000 leagues
under the sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, just to name a few.

“Verne’s fantastic stories gave us something to dream about: the future”
said Robert Laine, ESA’s ATV Project Manager, at the ceremony. “We at ESA
are making the future become today’s reality with our space freighter for
the international Space Station”, he added.

Jules Verne, Europe’s new multifunctional spacecraft to supply the
International Space Station, was on view in fully stacked configuration
before its launch, at ESA’s Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC (NL) on
9 April.

The International Space Station requires regular deliveries of equipment
for scientific and commercial utilisation, fuel to raise its altitude,
spare parts, and food, air and water for its permanent crew. From the
first operational flight of the ATV [ED – or Jules Verne?] in autumn 2004,
Europe’s most challenging spacecraft will play a vital role in station

Depending on the operational lifetime of the Space Station, ESA will build
at least 8 ATVs. The project involves 30 companies from ten European
countries under the prime contractorship of EADS Launch Vehicles (France),
which is also overseeing 8 companies from Russia and the United States
participating in development of the spacecraft.

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