Expedition 45 "Return of the Jedi" poster. Credits: NASA
The ATV programme might be over, but the legend lives on. Our favourite X-Wing aircraft shows up in NASA's Expedition 45 poster to the left of the green lightsaber held by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. This is fitting as Oleg is an ATV master, he was on the International Space Station during ATV's maiden flight Jules Verne in 2008 and monitored docking of ATV Edoardo Amaldi with ESA astronaut André Kuipers in 2011.
Sergei Volkov, holding the blue lightsaber, was also on the Space Station with Oleg when Jules Verne arrived. They even posed for a picture together inside the spacecraft (see last image below).
All the astronauts in this Expedition 45 poster will be on the International Space Station during ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen's 10-day 'iriss' mission launching 1 September.
Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko monitor docking of ATV Jules Verne Credit: NASA
Andre Kuipers and Oleg Kononenko training for ATV docking
Oleg and Sergei inside ATV Jules Verne. Credits: NASA
Formatting, disconnecting and - Hop! - dismantled! Decommissioning the ATV Control Centre, especially the Main Control Room, is a long task, with a bit of nostalgia. The operation will last two to three months. A team of twenty technicians, both ESA and CNES, are working on this (sad) project. Credits: CNES (original post via CNES web).
Formatage, débranchement et hop, on démonte ! Le démantèlement est une tâche assez longue, avec un peu de nostalgie. L’opération va durer entre 2 et 3 mois. Une vingtaine de personnes, que se soit du personnel CNES ou ESA, s’occupe de la fin de vie de l’ATV-CC. Crédits : CNES.
Another great recap of the five ATV missions from France's space agency CNES... in numbers. This infographic in French gives an impression of the scale of running a spacecraft programme, below is a rough translation, without the references to Star Wars. The full PDF can be downloaded here.
300 hours of simulation each mission.
375 gigabytes of telemetry received.
150 000 commands sent
1 500 000 ligns of code
31 astronauts worked on ATV in space
500 people worked at ATV Control Centre
14 400 orbits of Earth
14 km of cables for the control centre
15 terabytes of data for the five mission
1000 computers used, 700 in Toulouse, France
4 debris avoidance manoeuvres performed
35 tonnes of cargo transported
213 manoeuvres executed, each calculated up to 20 times beforehand
Our friends at France's space agency CNES have published an excellent interactive book on ATV seen through the eyes of the ATV Control Centre. From the first signatures in 1995 to the last command sent, the web documentary covers five mission and 15 years of adventure.
The site is in French but has great pictures and layout and is worth a look for everybody. Click on the image to enter the world of ATV Control Centre:
American company Aerojet supplied ATV’s large 490-N thrusters. Each ATV has four of the model R-4D engines, which were delivered to Airbus in Germany for integration into ATV.
These engines derive from the thrusters that powered Apollo astronauts to the Moon and are similar to the engines used on the Japanese HTV – but with an extended nozzle to provide higher performance. The engines will be used on NASA’s Orion spacecraft for which ESA is supplying the first service module, so you could safely say they have much experience in space.
R-4D thruster. Credits: Aerojet
The engines were selected at the beginning of the ATV series for their reliability (we are talking about a time when people paid with French Francs, Deutchmark and Guilders in Europe) and because they were already used on European telecom satellites. At that time, there was no similar engine made in Europe having similar performance.
The closest engine in Europe is the 500-N engine whose development started in Germany for ESA’s Alphabus satellite in 2004-2005. To ensure availability for the entire ATV fleet, ESA decided to buy 28 of the Aerojet engines (then called Kaiser Marquardt) in one batch to serve all ATVs.
Excelitas is an expert in lighting and took care of the lights for ATV navigation and the Integrated Cargo Carrier (they were called Perkin Elmer at the time the first ATV was built).
The navigation lights are the blinking exterior lights astronauts used on approach to see where an ATV was. Once docked, the interior cargo bay lights allow the astronauts to see the cargo, obviously. Lastly, Excelitas supplied the two Visual Video Targets on ATV’s exterior docking cone, which allowed the astronauts on Station to monitor the spacecraft’s approach.
This video of the final ATV undocking shows the navigation lights clearly:
Other US suppliers provided various small propulsion components and parts of the Environmental Control and Life Support system.
A prototype ‘blackbox for spacecraft’ running inside ESA’s cargo ferry as it burned up in the atmosphere managed to return data to the ground but, sadly, the images it took were lost in transit.
ESA BUC in ATV-5 Credit: ESA/NASA
ESA’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle broke up as planned over an uninhabited region of the South Pacific at about 18:04 GMT on Sunday 15 February, having separated from the International Space Station the day before.
Aboard it was the Break-Up Camera, designed to record ATV’s death throes in the infrared and transfer the results to the SatCom heatshield-protected sphere.
Surviving the break-up, SatCom then broadcasts its stored data to Iridium telecom satellites as it plummets back to Earth.
ATV-5 reentry seen from Space Station
How did it turn out in practice? The good news is that the team did indeed receive a message from the SatCom on Sunday evening at 18:08 GMT, four minutes after ATV broke up.
While we wait for news from the Break-Up Camera we received more amazing pictures of ATV-5 in space via our blog contact form - thanks Marian!
Your invitation to send images of ATV-5 has me caught up now, but I have some interesting images. The first is from 14 February and captures the last common flyby of International Space Station and ATV-5:
And this is from 15 February and captures single ATV-5 on its last orbit (ATV in culmination last shined with unique a flash):
Update 2: Finally got round to posting everything today. Apologies for the delay. Due to overwhelming participation and the decision to give everybody a little something, we distributed the prizes randomly. Some will receive but an ATV-5 sticker, some will receive patches or even an ATV torch. We ran out of ATV goodies, so astronaut missions are also included in the pot. It is pure luck what you get.
Update: We have decided to give everybody in this tribute gallery an ATV or ESA goodie. You will be contacted shortly via Twitter or email to send us your address. Thanks so much for sharing ATV's last flight!
When we invited everyone to send us pictures of ATV-5 streaking over skies with the International Space Station for Valentine's day, we didn't expect such an overwhelming response. We received inputs from UK, Belgium, France, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and Poland - wow!
Below are (almost) all the photos we managed to collect including a video. Thanks for sharing this moment with the world, we will miss ATV!
Huub Eggen @phi48 “Dit is helaas mijn beste foto: #ISS boven, #ATV5 onder.”
jvr @jvreymondon “Ok, not the best pic ever but…Amazing! #ATV5”
Gerhard Holtkamp “here is a picture I took from the ATV ISS pass this evening” Darmstadt, Germany
Detlef Koschny via email, The Netherlands
@dk3wn Mike Rupprecht
Remco Timmermans: Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Jürgen @jb_spiff “ISS chasing ATV5 over opera house and Elbe river in Dresden, Germany”
AAW Darmstadt e. V. @AAW_Darmstadt „Die #ISS und der voran fliegende, abgekoppelte europäische Raumtransporter #ATV5 am Samstagabend über Darmstadt“ Germany
jb @OrbitalMove “#ATV5 et #ISS 1813utc Feb 14th, from Foix, Pyrenées, South France. Pic went bad, from work. Bye #ATV5 thank you”
@dermuehle “#ATV5 preceeding #ISS into Earth’s shadow 1916 CET from Stuttgart” Germany
Nieuws Teylingen @NieuwsTeylingen, The Netherlands
Chris @ChrisManon “Sorry, I couldn’t get a better one. Found a starry place but light was difficult. Farewell #ATV5”
Marco Peuschel @eclipsemarco “Schöner Überflug heute der #ISS wieder. Hier noch tief am Nordwesthimmel . “ Germany
Ralf-Vandebergh, The Netherlands (Radar image)
@v8wunder “Got it! #ATV5 #GeorgesLemaître followed by #ISS. Shot from Bavaria, Germany. “
@unicorn7130 “#ISS & #ATV5 over Stuttgart 14.02.2015” Germany
@KmunityOfEquals “Fare the well #ATV5 …Pic yesterday evening #Cornwall … #BigDive” UK
@Kevin_Graeff “#ATV5 and #ISS passing over Riedstadt (Germany)”
ZauberDerSterne.de @ZauberDerSterne “My best 15-second image of #ISS and #ATV5 over Bonn, Germany.”
Koen Bakx pixelXp. @iKooon “Handheld(!) Photo from Tilburg (NL) #ATV5 in between the clouds. Nikon #d800 with Sigma 150-500mm”
@dk3wn “1815 UTC My last ever sight of #ATV5 over Germany – visible deviation of #ISS trajectory #ATV”
@starlingLX “Over my head #ISS and #ATV5”
@cgbassa “just departed #ATV5 and #ISS passing over NL”
kanarkusmaximus @kanarkusmaximus „#ATV5 from #Bergen. Good bye!”
@Friendsinspace “Bye bye #ATV5! And hello @AstroSamantha!! #FriendsInSpace“
@McNumber “Son and I just spotted #ISS and #ATV5 above our house. Greetings from Germany!”
@DO7KAY “My pics of the #ATV5 pass”
@hieriseric “Spectaculaire beelden van de #ATV5 zojuist getuige van dit event boven hellemond” The Netherlands
Kevin Gräff @Kevin_Graeff “#ATV5 and #ISS passing over Riedstadt (Germany)”
Hans Schremmer @astrohans “30 second exposure of #ATV5 and #ISS”
Remco Timmermans @timmermansr “My last ever sight of #ATV5, as it disappears into the Earth’s shadow in the East towards Jupiter” Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Susanne Pieterse @Susivic “Bright one above #ISS, bright one below is Jupiter and faint one in between is #ATV5 #Farewell” The Netherlands
Alex von Eckartsberg @starlingLX “And a blue light saber before disappearing #ATV5 and #ISS”
Jeroen van Dorp @jeroenvandorp “Nou ja, goed bedoeld. Boven #ISS onder #ATV5”
Sebastiaan de Vet, Above Amsterdam Central Station, The Netherlands, via email
Alex Spiller, over Saxony, Germany via blog comments
@BigArtimon “Georges Lemaitre up to Ottignies, Belgium sat. feb.14th 2015@18h11 TU”
Sternfreund Dirk “my picture shows the ATV5 and ISS on the sky above Stolpen (East-Saxony)” via comments
David Müller “The second one is a stack of multiple frames (Unfortunately with a crossing plane” via blog comments
David Müller “a single frame with 30 second exposure” via blog comments
Ralf Vandeberg via email: “I took this last Friday but in very turbulent windy conditions” Radar image
Marco Langbroek via email “ATV-5 was easy to see with the naked eye, even amidst clouds” Leiden, The Netherlands
Marco Langbroek via email “ATV-5 was easy to see with the naked eye, even amidst clouds” Leiden, The Netherlands
We have not quite decided exactly how we will distribute the prizes (we need to count how much ATV swag we have left) but we know how to contact you...
This was the last image shown on the ATV Control Centre's main screen after the last reentry ever of an Automated Transfer Vehicle. The technology in ATV will go to space again in 2017 on NASA's Orion spacecraft.
Last screen shown at the ATV control centre before being switched off.