A nice way to slide into the weekend: the ATV-4 set from ESA's 'esa_events' channel in Flickr, updated with some nice pics from last week's Joint International Simulation (JIS).
Final ATV training for Luca
Luca ATV training at European Astronaut Centre
Part of ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s busy schedule in the run up to his Volare mission includes final ATV training and exams. Unlike Luca who has to travel the world for his training, you can try your hand at ATV training from home.
Luca already completed ATV training at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany and is qualified for undocking ATV as well as backup crew for docking.
Luca was put under a series of simulations last week to refresh and test his skills together with cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, but this time at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre, Star City in Russia. On a given day up to 11 simulations are run where Luca and Oleg have to work together as operators one and two. In addition Luca conducted many simulations on his own.
The main difference between the sessions in Germany and in Russia according to Luca: “Now everything is in Russian!”. Briefing and debriefing at the European Astronaut Centre are done in English while the simulations are in Russian, in Star City everything is in Russian. The hardware and simulations are the same.
Screenshot of ATV training
During the simulations, ATV is put through the worst possible scenarios to test the operator’s skills to the limit.
Luca explains: “For me, a failure is when the safety of the spacecraft is compromised. During an exam a failure is more restrictive. You might take the right action with the correct result, but a few seconds too late, and your score might not be 100%”
Despite this, when we talked to Luca on Wednesday last week, Oleg and Luca achieved a full success rate. As his exam was this week Luca explained: “Any other result would have been bad news”.
Final ATV exam today in Russia
ESA's ATV training team at the Yuri Gagarin Training Centre (GCTC) near Moscow are overseeing the final ATV exam today for the next set of astronauts heading to the ISS (well, Luca today and two more cosmonauts on Monday). This image posted earlier by Lionel Ferra, one of the experts from the European Astronaut Centre now in Moscow. Good luck!
Today at ATV-CC: crucial part of this week’s simulation
This sent in early this AM by ESA's deputy mission manager, Charlotte Beskow - Ed.
The simulation of the complete ATV-4 launch-to-docking mission steps is approaching the most interesting part: rendezvous (RDV) and docking. It has been a very busy 'sim' week with a large number of interesting (and, thankfully, false) 'failures' that have kept all of us awake most hours of the day.
Flight control team at work in ATV-CC during docking simulation 8 Feb 2013. Credit: ESA/C. Beskow
It is now 5:00 CET and everyone is rather tired but this has been a very interesting week; in a few hours it will be over for this Sim.
For the ESA Engineering Support Team (EST), there will be just enough time to head back to the hotel, sleep a few hours, check out, go back for debriefing And then head to the airport...
We are all hoping that the actual flight of ATV Albert Einstein will be much smoother!
EST at ATV-CC 8 Feb 2013 Credit: ESA/C. Beskow
ATV docking simulation training at ATV-CC
A couple nice updates from ESA ATV trainer Lionel Ferra at ATV-CC, Toulouse, today:
Luca sits at the ATV console during training at the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany. (Credit: Lionel Ferra)
The ESA-developed Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, is the flagship of the ISS cargo spacecraft program. No doubt about that: even though I’m just a rookie, I’ve heard it so many times from experienced astronauts and cosmonauts to quickly become convinced. About as big as a London two-decker, the ATV has more than sheer size to amaze us. It’s the only cargo vehicle that stays docked to the Station for 6 months, thus greatly increasing its inhabitable volume: for the long duration astros and cosmos, a welcome luxury.
Kirsten MacDonell, ESA's Cargo Integration Engineer who oversees cargo activities on ATV sent us this update from Kourou:
The ATV-4 team finished a dress rehearsal for the new Late Cargo Access Means (LCAM) in Kourou. The new LCAM will allow larger and heavier last-minute cargo to be loaded, 75 kg Triple Cargo Transfer Bags versus our previous capability of 25 kg Double Bags.
During the dress rehearsals the new LCAM is covered in blue sterile sheets in one of the photos since we want to keep ATV-4’s Integrated Cargo Carrier as free from microorganisms as possible whenever working inside: this includes both putting operators in bunny suits and disinfecting hardware.
LCAM under blue sheeting
The team had tested the system on mock-ups at APCO in Switzerland but this was the first time the system was mounted above ATV-4’s Cargo hold and used to enter inside.
To prove the system and ensure safety the team had to first demonstrate rescuing an operator and then rescuing an unconscious operator. In the second case an LCAM operator had to enter ATV’s cargo hold to assist the rescue operation of a colleague who acted unconcious. Both operators where attached to winches.
The first manoeuvre took only 22 seconds, whereas the ‘rescue operation’ took 61 seconds… both very fast times that ensure safety if anything should occur.
Lowering the cargo bags
Mission done and done well!
Jean-Michel Bois at ATV-CC
A short note from Jean-Michel Bois, Head of the ESA Mission Operations Team at ATV-CC in Toulouse:
Everybody is happy here. For sure it's the end of a rare technical and human adventure, with hours spent in the control centre, nights and days, to monitor this incredible vehicle. Such a complex and successful mission is a major event in professional career.
All objectives of the mission were achieved: delivery of cargo, fuel, water and oxygen to the Station plus support for numerous reboosts and collection and destruction of ISS waste.
This ATV-3 mission was especially demanding for the ATV-CC teams with numerous contingencies during the mission, none critical, but to be solved one after the other. Thanks to the professionalism of the Astrium, CNES and ESA teams, this mission is again a great success!
Now, no break in activities: ATV-4 starts tomorrow morning for ATV-CC, with preparations for the new dedicated mission configuration.
First deorbit burn slight underperformance
ESA Mission Director Mike Steinkopf, sitting in the MD console position tonight at ATV-CC, reports: first deorbit burn underperformed by 0.2%. This is a very minor amount.
Times in UTC
6/05 - ATV-4 moves to the BAF for final preparations
8/05 - ESA Operations Readiness Review
20/05 - Late-cargo loading
31/05 - Launch Readiness Review (planned)
5/06 Lift-off VA213 (planned) All dates subject to change