I love headlines like “Robot Ship Cleared to Dock With Station”

Another busy day, but on a science note, this kind of stuff, as I’ve talked about before, is always a thrill:

Managers of the International Space Station on Wednesday cleared Europe’s new Jules Verne cargo ship for its first docking with the orbiting research outpost.

After assessing results of two days of trial maneuvers around the station, including having the two craft close to within 36 feet of one another, the Mission Management Team of international partners in the project gave approval for an attempt on Thursday to link the ships.

The Jules Verne, named for the visionary French author, is the first of a new class of robot station supply ships called Automatic Transfer Vehicles or A.T.V.’s. The robot ship was built by the member nations of the European Space Agency as one of Europe’s major contributions to the international station.

“We have proven that Jules Verne’s systems are safe, reliable and ready to dock to the station,” John Ellwood, the A.T.V. Project Manager for Europe said after getting approval to proceed. “Everyone has worked very hard to get to this point.”

In the wake of Arthur C. Clarke’s passing, noting how workaday this has the appearance of being — even though it isn’t — and how relatively unremarkable this is in a year filled with all sorts of other concerns on the collective is itself remarkable. This is both a milestone and something expected — and I’m pleased and thrilled.

Meantime, here’s to yet another in the endless series of remarkable shots one can get in space:

The Jules Verne in orbit

More about the ATV program run the ESA here. Well worth your time.


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