Feeds

Euro space truck consigned to flaming death

Johannes Kepler burns up over Pacific

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The European Space Agency yesterday sent its space truck Johannes Kepler to a fiery death over the South Pacific in a perfectly-executed "destructive re-entry" at the end of the spacecraft's four-month mission to the International Space Station.

ESA's second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-2) plunged into Earth's atmosphere after two thruster burns designed to bring any remaining debris down in an uninhabited stretch of ocean. ESA explains: "Just before hitting the atmosphere, Johannes Kepler was commanded to begin tumbling to ensure it would disintegrate and burn up safely."

Artist's impression of the Johannes Kepler burning up in the atmosphere. Pic: ESA/D. Ducros

As predicted, a few pieces did survive the intense heat to hit the water at around 21:00 GMT last night. The substantial Russian docking adaptor and main engines came down in an area roughly 6000km west of Chile.

As well as 1,200kg of ISS waste and redundant hardware, the Johannes Kepler was carrying a prototype "black box" which recorded the spacecraft's last moments, grabbing data on "acceleration, roll, pitch and yaw rates, temperatures and GPS coordinates". Once free of the disintegrating ATV, it continued a solo descent, protected by its own heatshield, before making a last call to send the data via the Iridium satphone system.

ESA hopes this info "will help to predict what happens to space hardware as it re-enters and comes apart under aerodynamic heating and loads".

The Johannes Kepler docked with the ISS. Pic: NASA

The 20-tonne Johannes Kepler blasted off from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on 17 February, carrying 4,534kg of propellant for ISS reboost and attitude control, 1,600kg of dry cargo, 850kg of propellant for the Zvezda module and 100kg of oxygen.

Alberto Novelli, head of ESA’s ATV Mission Operations, said of the successful mission: "We broke many records with ATV-2. Not only was this the heaviest payload ever launched by ESA and the Ariane 5 rocket, but the ATV’s engines also achieved the biggest boost for human spaceflight since the Apollo missions to the Moon: we raised the Space Station's orbit by more than 40 kilometres."

Nico Dettmann, head of the ATV Programme, chipped in with: "ATV has shown again its capabilities in servicing the Station and we are looking forward to the next, Edoardo Amaldi, which will be shipped to Kourou in August for launch in early 2012." ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.