The vessel, dubbed Jules Verne, is the first Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV) that the European Space Agency has decisively committed to its participation in the International Space Station program.
The unmanned Ariane rocket successfully put a cargo vessel into orbit on Sunday to carry supplies to the International Space Station.
The modified Ariane-5 launcher lifted off at 1:03 a.m. (4:03 a.m. British time) from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou on the northeast coast of South America carrying a 20 tonne cargo module on top.
Officials say the ATV will remain docked to the space station for six months as astronauts remove its cargo and fill it with cargo from the station.
It will then be thrust back toward earth, burning up on re-entry. Any remaining debris will be targeted to a remote area of the Pacific Ocean.
“This is a challenge because the ATV must rendezvous with the space station and the two vehicles will be travelling at 28,000 kilometres an hour,” ESA astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy said.
Arianespace President Jean-Yves Le Gall said Sunday’s mission was of great importance.