Successful LIRIS demonstration

ATV-5 with LIRIS demonstrator. Credits: ESA/NASA

ATV-5 with LIRIS demonstrator. Credits: ESA/NASA

The Laser Infra-Red Imaging Sensors (LIRIS) demonstration, developed by Airbus for ESA tested new rendezvous sensors during a special flyunder manoeuvre 8 August, four days before ATV Georges Lemaître docked  with the International Space Station.

The LIRIS sensors were activated during ATV-5's mission and monitored at the ATV Control Cetnre with experts on the LIRIS team confirming that the sensors were working correctly.

LIRIS team at ATV-CC after docking and switch-off (Credits: ESA)

LIRIS team at ATV-CC after docking and switch-off (Credits: ESA)

The data from LIRIS was not used by Georges Lemaître itself nor sent to ground control straight away as a large amount of data was generated. Instead data was saved on dedicated recorders. ATV-5 relied on the usual optical sensors (videometers and telegoniometers) for navigation to achieve a perfect docking with the International Space Station - an accuracy of less than 5 mm!

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New spaceship smell

We have mentioned the 'new-car smell' of a fresh Automated Transfer Vehicle before, but never wondered how long it takes for it to dissapear. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and ATV Georges Lemaître loadmaster provides the answer in this tweet:

So from docking on 12 August to now gives roughly two months for a newly-arrived spacecraft to blend in with the International Space Station.

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Relive ATV docking – from inside the Space Station

This 3-minute video shows excerpts of how ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sasha Skvortsov monitored the docking of ATV Georges Lemaître with the International Space Station on August 12.

An ATV docking is a mix of high-tech and low-tech. Lasers on ATV Georges Lemaître give extremely accurate distance readings but these readings are double-checked by Alexander and Sasha using a simple ruler placed over the monitoring screen.

Speaking in Russian, you should hear the astronauts say “Системы в норме” and “Мишень внорме” meaning “all systems are nominal” and “target is nominal” (this editor's Russian is admittedly not spaceflight-worthy).

After docking the two largest spacecraft around, Alexander has time to record a quick soundbite before a well-deserved congratulatory hug with Sasha.

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ATV-5 pushes Station to fly sideways for today’s spacewalk

Impression of Station flying in XVV normal attitude, seen from ATV or moving away from the viewer.

Impression of Station flying in XVV normal attitude, seen from ATV or moving away from the viewer.

Charlotte Beskow update on ATV-5's important task for today's spacewalk:

Today on the International Space Station Barry Wilmore and Reid Wiseman will change out a sequential shunt unit during a spacewalk (EVA28). NASA TV will show it a bit later, once it gets underway . It is extra nice for the ATV team since Barry Wilmore worked on the ATV project during its development phase a few years ago.

Normally the Space Station flies in what we call XVV where the velocity is along the X axis (ie the axis that runs right along the Station's body) from ATV-5 in the back to Node 2 in the front and with the truss with the massive Solar Arrays sticking out on both sides. For this spacewalk, the International Space Station will change to fly sideways, in a –YVV, ie the truss will be in line with the ground path. To v isualise it you can walk forward with arms outstretched, then turn 90 degrees to your right while still moving in the same direction so your left hand leads. ATV-5 make this attitude change happen and for that reason we all got up very early this morning as operations started around 5:00 GMT.

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ATV-5 seen from Earth

Astronomer-photographer extraordinaire Thierry Legault has featured before on this blog, but wanted to take images of the International Space Station with ATV Georges Lemaître visible. Taken from a Paris suburb in France, the results are outstanding. Click on  "read more" for more pictures and even a high-definition video of the Station passing the Sun in real time (it lasts 0.7 seconds).

Credits: Thierry Legault

Credits: Thierry Legault

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ATV-5 reboosts the Station

ATV-5 solar panels blocking ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst's sunlight. Credits: ESA/NASA

ATV-5 solar panels blocking ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst's sunlight. Credits: ESA/NASA

From Eric Conquet at ATV Control Centre:
Today the scheduled reboost has been successfully performed. Ignition of ATV thrusters #1 and #3 was commanded at 09:13 GMT by the Russian Service Module. A delta-v of 1.22 m/s was measured after the manoeuver, just as targeted when planning the manoeuver.
Good job ATV!!

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Fabulous shadow view of our favourite cargo vessel

Posted last night by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst!

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Real-time life on board the ISS

Earlier today, teams at ATV-CC were notified that a piece of debris was suspected of being on track to pass (too) close to the ISS, and that a debris avoidance manoeuvre (DAM) powered by ATV-5 might be required.

ATV fires its engines for reboosting ISS to a higher orbit. Credit: ESA

ATV fires its engines for reboosting ISS to a higher orbit. Credit: ESA

ESA Mission Director Jean Michel Bois wrote earlier today:

There is a foreseen Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre (DAM) tonight, to be confirmed later. The suspected conjunction is with object 38971 (Breeze-M debris). It is a small object that is difficult to track; it is also in an elliptical orbit. The conjunction is foreseen for 4 Oct around 03:50 GMT (05:50 CEST). A manoeuvre using the ATV thrusters is in preparation, for activation around 01:30 GMT (03:30 CEST). The delta velocity foreseen is 1m/sec.

Note that, if it would have been performed, the DAM burn would have made the planned ISS reboost on 8 October redundant.

Well, in the end, additional characterisation of the debris object's orbit indicated that no DAM would be necessary. Again, Jean-Michel Bois wrote:

We have just been informed by NASA that the DAM is cancelled – there is no more risk to the ISS. Note that this type of situation happens rather frequently. But it's always safety first: it's better to be prepared to react (with a DAM burn planned and ready to go) and then have to cancel when the risk has disappeared, than the opposite and not be ready...

That's real-time life on board the ISS!

For more information on ATV-powered DAMs, read some of our past blog posts.

 

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Final refuelling team(s)

The joint ESA/CNES team at ATV-CC poses for the camera to mark the final refuelling of the ISS by an ATV...

A happy ESA/CNES team mugs for the camera on the day that the final ATV refuels the ISS for the last time. Credit: ESA

A happy ESA/CNES team mugs for the camera at ATV-CC on the day that the final ATV refuels the ISS for the last time. Credit: ESA

... and here are the colleagues from ESA and RSC Energia in Moscow also working to support the last gas up; well done to everyone for a smooth, last fuelling!

ESA/RSC Energia team at Tsup Moscow for the final refuelling of the ISS by an ATV. Credit: ESA

ESA/RSC Energia team at Tsup Moscow for the final refuelling of the ISS by an ATV. Credit: ESA

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Purging the pipes

ATV-5 approaching Station in August. Credits: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev

ATV-5 approaching Station in August. Credits: Roscosmos-O. Artemyev

Another update from ATV Control Centre on ATV-5's last fueling operations in space: Fuel purging took place Wednesday morning. The reason we need to do this is to prevent propellant liquid escaping when ATV Georges Lemaître undocks from the International Space Station at the end of its mission. The purging operation safely emptied the propellant liquid remaining in the lines between ATV-5's tanks and the Space Station, including the connectors in ATV's docking ring, into the vacuum of space. This followed on from yesterday's refuelling propellant transfer activity.

Today we opened the oxidiser propellant line vent valves for a second time to expel any residual gas and liquid remaining after yesterday's purging thus concluding ATV-5 refuelling operations. The final operation was "Second Vacuuming" which finished at lunch time. During this operation the venting valves of the refuelling oxidiser transfer lines were opened for about 90 minutes. This expelled a small amount of residual gas and liquid in these lines which remained after yesterday's purging activity. The valves have now been closed and propellant transfer lines are now completely empty meaning that it is safe for ATV to undock from the space station.

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