The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) ferries propellants, food, water and equipment to the ISS. Once docked, it uses its own engines to correct the station's orbit, compensating for a regular loss of altitude due to drag and contributes to collision and debris avoidance. At the end of its mission it is filled with waste, de-docked and burns up as it heads back into the Earth's atmosphere. The first ATV, dubbed 'Jules Verne', was launched by an Ariane 5 on 9 March 2008 and performed a perfect docking with the ISS on 3 April 2008. The ATV is thus the first spacecraft in the world to carry out an automatic rendezvous and docking with a space station. A total of five missions are planned for the period up to 2015. The second ATV 'Johannes Kepler' was launched on 16 February 2011 and docked successfully on 24 February 2011. The third ATV has been named 'Edoardo Amaldi'. The launch is planned for 2012. Under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA), Astrium is industrial prime contractor for the ATV.
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