Space Truck Shoots Into Orbit

Europe's robotic space freighter to service ISS
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2008 11:42 AM CDT
This photo released by the European Space Agency shows the Ariane-5 ES rocket after take off from the launch pad at Kourou space center, French Guyana, Sunday March 9, 2008. A European rocket was successfully...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Europe's first automated cargo ship blasted off from the South American jungle early today, headed for a rendezvous with the International Space Station, the BBC reports. The craft—the biggest and most complex that Europe has ever launched—will deliver food, water, pressurized air, fuel, and personal items to the ISS crew and remove garbage.

The spacecraft carves out a place for Europe as "an essential partner of the International Space Station," according to the European Space Agency chief. The almost $2 billion ship, dubbed Jules Verne, will spend six months moored to the ISS, then will detach and safely disintegrate over the Pacific Ocean, AFP reports.