ATV-5: The Last of its Kind

A trail of fire in the night sky marked the end of ESA’s ATV program. On February 15, 2015 the last ATV, ATV-5 undocked from the International Space Station and started deorbiting. Loaded with waste from the ISS it made its way back towards the atmosphere, where it burned out over the Pacific Ocean. This was the last ATV made by ESA. It marks the end of a space program, which was already conceived in 1987 to serve for an international Space Station, when UssR’s MIR station was shut down. Five successful ATV missions (originally Ariane Transfer Vehicle) have made its way to space since the first launch in 2008. Its legacy however remains as the experience and technology will be used for further space missions such as NASA’s Orion capsules.