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Is this good or bad news? Europe has shut down the production line producing their ATV cargo craft for ISS.
Confronted by parts obsolescence and waning political support, the European Space Agency has shut down subsystem production lines for the Automated Transfer Vehicle as member states debate how they will contribute to future international space exploration efforts, according to top spaceflight officials.
ESA has launched three of the five ATVs it agreed to launch, with the remaining two scheduled in 2013 and 2014. What happens after that remains unclear. It seems from the article the European partners don’t seem interested in upgrading the ATV, and instead seem willing to let the as-yet untried U.S. commercial companies carry the load.
Commercial flights by U.S. spacecraft will make up the rest of the lost capacity with the end of the ATV program.
The pressure continues to build on a successful Falcon 9/Dragon flight on April 30.