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European Cargo Craft Docks with Station
ISS026-E-029249 -- ATV-2

Image above: Backdropped by the blackness of space and Earth's horizon, the European Space Agency's "Johannes Kepler" Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) docks to the aft end of the International Space Station's Zvezda service module. Photo credit: NASA

The European Space Agency’s “Johannes Kepler” Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) automatically docked with the aft end of the International Space Station's Zvezda service module at 10:59 a.m. EST Feb. 24.

The European cargo craft began its trip to the station at 4:50 p.m. Feb. 16 with a launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Arianespace launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.

› Read more about ATV2

At the time of launch, the station was flying about 200 miles above the Bolivian/Peruvian border, northwest of La Paz, Bolivia.

ATV-2 is a pressurized unmanned cargo craft loaded with crew supplies, oxygen, propellant and research supplies. The cargo craft provides the capability to reboost the station to a higher orbit, provide attitude control, help desaturate the complex’s control moment gyroscopes and perform any necessary debris avoidance maneuvers. Once its 96-day mission is complete, ATV-2 will undock in early June and burn up as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of unneeded items from the space station.