Unmanned Space Ship

An unmanned cargo ship has docked at the International Space Station with a load of food, water and other supplies. It’s the “unmanned” part that has attracted the interest of space agencies all over the world, as
Houston Public Radio’s Jim Bell reports.

The automated cargo ship Jules Verne is about as basic as a space ship can be, because it doesn’t have accommodations for people and it’s disposable. It’s built to make a one-way trip. It was launched from the European Space Agency’s launch complex in French Guyana South America, and guided by remote control to the space station by flight controllers in France, Russia and the United States. The rendezvous and docking early today were completely successful, and the space station crew is now unloading supplies of food, water, oxygen and other consumables, and fuel for the space station’s attitude control systems.

Using disposable ships to deliver cargoes is the European Space Agency’s major contribution to the space station. Once the ships are unloaded, they’ll undock and burn up on re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

This successful use of an unmanned ship has attracted world-wide attention and interest. NASA flight controller Brian Smith says it was unique, unprecedented, and nothing less than the beginning of a new era. He says it was the first time a space craft was operated remotely in real time by controllers in three countries. He says it took years of hard work, practice and coordination to get it right, and it underscores the “international” aspect of the International Space Station. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.