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International space partners update launch manifest

Backdropped by the blackness of space, ESA's Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (lower left) appears to be very small as it continues its relative separation from the International Space Station. A NASA photo

PARIS (BNS): NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has decided to update the International Space Station launch schedule.

The target launch dates for the last planned space shuttle flight, STS-134 on Endeavour, will be February 27 and the Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) will be February 15, ESA said in a release.

Roscosmos will continue to look at Soyuz launch and landing options to provide manifest robustness.

The agencies agreed to the changes during discussions at the International Astronautical Conference in Prague.

Arianespace, whose Ariane 5 rocket will launch ATV-2 into orbit from French Guiana, has confirmed its commitment to launch ATV-2 on February 15.

The STS-134 flight will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, to the station. The AMS is a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter and the origin and structure of the universe.

ATV-2 - dubbed Johannes Kepler - is scheduled to dock on February 26 to the station. The cargo craft is designed to deliver over seven tons of experiments, fuel, water, food and other supplies from Earth to the space station.

While docked, ATV-2 also will use its thrusters to periodically boost the station's orbit (which decays with time), and it can also be used for emergency maneuvers, such as those required if a piece of space debris is predicted to hit the station.

After about three and a half months, the ATV-2 will undock from the station and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. The first ATV, Jules Verne, was launched in March 2008 and reentered the atmosphere in September 2008.


ISS  Launch  

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