KOUROU, French Guiana, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency has completed loading oxygen destined for the International Space Station onto the Jules Verne spacecraft.
The Jules Verne, an automated transfer vehicle, is the first ESA resupply spaceship. It's scheduled to be launched on its maiden voyage to the space station no earlier than Feb. 22.
The month-long loading operation began early in January at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. British,
"The engineers first created a vacuum in the ATV gas tank and its circuit," said Dominique Siruguet, the Jules Verne's project manager. "But before this, they had to implement many strict safety procedures and create a very clean environment. This is all time consuming, but necessary to avoid any risk with the highly explosive and flammable oxygen."
Jules Verne will be filled with four different propellants and 44 pounds of oxygen
From now until the end of the month, the largest quantity of propellant, about 4 tons, will be loaded, including monomethylhydrazine and mixed nitrogen oxides, officials said.
The spaceship will be moved to the ESA's final assembly building to be mated with its Ariane 5 rocket launcher during the first week of February.