atv departs iss.jpg

credit NASA / caption: this picture is of ATV-1 leaving ISS, Kepler will fly in mid-2010

The European Space Agency has announced that the second of its five planned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) resuppy spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS) will be named Johannes Kepler

This was a bit of a surprise as I had been told that after ATV-1, which was named Jules Verne, the agency would stick to science fiction authors and I didn’t think that Kepler wrote fiction. While I thought H G Wells or Arthur C Clarke unlikely for ATV-2 I did wonder if Germany’s Kurd Lasswitz would be chosen. But Kepler apparently was a bit of an author and wrote the Somnium, which is regarded as science fiction

So, with that ATV-2 naming guess entirely wrong, it is time to speculate widely about ATV-3I am assuming here that the next ATV will be named after an Italian. They already have the Columbus laboratory so that name can be ignored. And the three multi-purpose logistics modules taken by NASA’s Space Shuttle to the ISS have the names Leonardo, Raffaello and Donatello, so I think we can safely say they are also unlikely

Having said that I am going to opt for Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli as his discovery of the “canali” on Mars triggered a lot of interest in Mars and whether there was life on the red planet

Come on ESA prove me wrong, again