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ATV makes first close approach to ISS
Posted: Sun, Mar 30, 2008, 10:34 AM ET (1434 GMT)
ATV illustration (ESA) The European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) spacecraft Jules Verne successfully completed its first close approach test to the International Space Station on Saturday, the next step towards docking with the station. Jules Verne moved from an initial position 39 kilometers from the ISS to within 3.5 km of the station before making an "escape" maneuver as planned to move back to a safe distance from the station. The approach was the first in a series of tests that will being the ATV increasing closer to the station, testing the spacecraft's ability to make an automated rendezvous and docking with the station. A second test, planned for Monday, will bring the ATV to just 11 meters from the aft docking port on the Zvezda module. Barring problems, the ATV will then attempt to dock with the station on Thursday. The spacecraft was launched in early March, but had to wait in orbit for the recent STS-123 shuttle mission to end before beginning the rendezvous and docking tests.
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