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Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle poised for 2007 launch

Cyrus Farivar

Okay, space-loving fans, you'll be happy to know that the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle has just survived three straight weeks of software and hardware testing under simulated space conditions at the European Space Agency's test facilities in The Netherlands. In order to pass the tests, the ATV had to continually operate while going through massive temperature differentials, or as one engineer explained: "It is like putting your computer laptop in the freezer, then exposing it to the Sun in the summer heat and back again to the freezer while you are continually using it." This spacecraft will hook up with the International Space Station this coming summer when it brings supplies and fuel to the outpost. Now when will this space tech reach us lowly terrestrial consumers? We're guessing probably around 2020.

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