Europe will receive its own access to the International Space Station (ISS) by means of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space transporter. As the most complex spacecraft ever to be built in western Europe, the ATV represents a significant milestone for European space.
As early as 1987, the European Space Agency (ESA) was carrying out research into the feasibility of an ATV-like vehicle.
The ATV space transporter is a joint project between industry and research in Europe. It is the most complex spacecraft that has ever been built in Europe. Its degree of automation is significantly higher than that of the Russian Soyuz or Progress crafts.
In March 2008 the European ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) space freighter named Jules Verne will travel for the first time to the International Space Station (ISS). After being launched by an Ariane 5 from the European spaceport Kourou in French Guiana, Jules Verne will undergo extensive tests of its capabilities in orbit for about 16 days.