Category Archives: ATV-4

ATV-4 re-entry animation

Many thanks to Vladimir Jankijevic, in Zurich, who sent in a neat animation made by stitching together the re-entry images we posted yesterday.

Vladimir wrote:

ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, burnt up on 2 November at 12:04 GMT over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. This Animation is made from the photos from the ESA Flickr set.

ATV-4 reentry pictures

The ATV-4 reentry pictures arrived today and they are well worth the wait:

ATV-4 reentry competition winners

After careful deliberation, we have chosen the winners for our re-entry competition: which ATV is seen in the film Gravity and what does the frog symbolise?

Thanks to all for sending in your answers, we definitely enjoyed reading them and were quite overwhelmed by the response!

We only have one special prize, however, so we have to be strict in deciding. Entries via ESA’s Friends of Facebook page were discounted, as the challenge clearly said to reply via the blog.

ATV-2 logo

ATV-2 logo

At ESA, we have had many lunch-time conversations about the film Gravity and the general consensus is that ATV Johannes Kepler, also known as ATV-2, is the spacecraft seen in the film.

In the movie, the logo on our favourite spacecraft is light blue. Chance Wen commented on Facebook: “And on top of that, the film was in early production around 2011, which coincides with the launch of ATV-2.”

This decision might come as a surprise, but editors' decision is final (we've argued this enough over lunch already... :-) .)

So the winner is:


Empty ATV control room

For the first time since June nobody is 'on console' at the ATV Control Centre. An empty room can only mean the end of a mission. Congratulations ATV team!



ATV-4 mission complete!

The Albert Einstein mission came to and end at 13:04 CET!

ATV-CC during ATV-4 reentry Credit: ESA

ATV-CC during ATV-4 re-entry Credit: ESA

I just spoke with Mission Director Kris Capelle, who says that the entire ESA/CNES team here at ATV-CC are sad that the mission's over, happy to have overseen such a successful mission and looking forward to a pause in the pace before getting back to work on ATV-5.

In the end, the video feed from the ISS was interesting but not as impressive as we had hoped. Astro Luca on board the station says that the crew had a 'spectacular view', so there's a good chance we'll get some imagery later (which we'll post here!).

For more details, read the full ESA report via the web.

Expected loss of contact

Teams at ATV-CC forecast that loss of radio contact – loss of signal (LOS) – with ATV-4 will occur at about 13:05CET.

GO for reentry and last big boost

ATV-4. Credits: NASA

ATV-4. Credits: NASA/ESA

Mission director Mike Steinkopf sent this update from ATV-CC:

We just finished our internal briefing: all ATV-4 systems are nominal and we are GO for reentry.

A first deorbit boost DEO1 is planned at 08:35 GMT (09:35 CET) with a decreasing ATV-4's speed by about 26 m/s for a duration of about 7 min. The second and last boost (DEO2) is planned for 11:28 (12:28 CET) and will decrease its speed by 88.4 m/s for about 23 min.

This is the biggest-ever boost of all ATVs because of ATV-4's special reentry flight plan that will be observed from the International Space Station. Albert Einstein will aim for an orbit that puts it -70 km below sea level (a -70 km perigree) whereas previous ATV's aimed at 0 km. 

In other words ATV-4 will enter our atmosphere at a steeper angle over the South Pacific Unpopulated Area safety zone compared to its predecessors.

Re-entry video feed from ATV-CC ~12:30 CET start

Live video feed from ATV-CC, Toulouse, for today's re-entry (scroll down to see our periodic blog updates).

NOTE: This is a technical feed only, and audio may not always be present. We expect to start around 12:30 CET and run for about 75 mins. Live video from the ISS showing ATV-4 re-entry, if available, will start around 12:55 CET. Main re-entry 'streak' expected at 13:04 CET. Technical issues or operational exigencies may require postponement or cancellation.

Rendezvous with a phantom space station

I just chatted with ESA's ATV-4 Mission Manager Alberto Novelli and got an update on tomorrow's re-entry – specifically the plans to watch Albert Einstein re-enter live from the ISS.

The aim is to line up ATV-4 underneath the ISS to enable a bird's eye view for the Station cameras, which should deliver the first-ever video* of an ATV re-entry seen from space.

A cool video from our friends at CNES showing ATV undockign and re-entry: Désamarrage et rentrée atmosphérique de l'ATV-4 from CNES on Vimeo

Alberto says that since undocking on 28 October, the mission team at ATV-CC have been pacing ATV-4 through a series of manoeuvres that more or less mimic the manoeuvres used for rendezvous and docking with the actual ISS, which the vessel accomplished back in June.

ATV Rendezvous & Docking Profile

ATV Rendezvous & Docking Profile - when docking to a non-phantom station!

He says, however, that tomorrow's 'rendezvous' is with a "virtual point in space approximately 100 km beneath the real ISS" (hence our tongue-in-cheek title for this post!), from which ATV-4 will be commanded to perform its two de-orbit burns.

Most of the manoeuvring to get to this virtual point at the right time (around noon tomorrow) has already been done; there remains just a pair of burns to be done this evening and then two overnight to do some fine tuning. If all goes well Albert Einstein will be perfectly lined up for its 'phantom' rendezvous tomorrow AM for a spectacular farewell.


ATV-4 mission report 31 Oct

This evening, the first set of the final 'Transfer to ISS Vicinity' manoeuvres (TV1-1, TV1-2) are set to take place at 19:20 and 20:03 CET, running for 3:50 and 4:01, respectively. Overnight, the second set (TV2-1, TV2-2) are planned for 02:56 and 03:54 CET, running for 00:40 and 00:55, respectively. These are the last burns prior to Saturday morning's two big de-orbit burns, DEO1 & DEO2.

Note as always: All dates/timings below are forecast only and are subject to change as this is a continuing, dynamic mission. Time below indicated in UTC.