Airbus Defence and Space

Manned Space Missions Dossiers

ATV-2: just extraordinary!

The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is not only the biggest, most complex spacecraft ever developed and built in Europe, but is also the first vehicle in the world designed to execute rendez-vous and operational docking in fully automated mode.

Despite its mass of nearly 20 tonnes and 22 metre span, the ATV is so precise that it can dock autonomously with the International Space Station (ISS) at a speed of 28,000 km/h and with a precision of less than 10 cm.

Launched by a specially adapted version of the Ariane rocket, this technological jewel carries over seven tonnes of freight to the ISS.