3D virtual visits: inside and out of the International Space Station
First up - Outside!
This is pretty cool! And, in our humble opinion, ATV docking starting around the 2:40 point is the best part!
Get an idea of what it feels like to see the International Space Station from the outside, as an astronaut on a spacewalk. Put your 3D glasses on to appreciate the size of humankind's orbital laboratory and watch a Soyuz spacecraft undock and a docking with ESA's supply spacecraft Automated Transfer Vehicle.
Watch both full screen for best effect!
Next - inside!
This, too, is pretty cool. And the ATV bit comes at toward the end, at 4:40!
Put your 3D glasses on for this virtual visit of the International Space Station's modules. Float through the space laboratories and connecting modules from the perspective of an astronaut.
How to cook a meteorite for travel to the International Space Station
1 space-grade silicone polymer
Vacuum oven to 100°C at 0.01 mbar
Oven to 400°C
The voyage of our reconstituted art-meteorite took a significant step closer to space last week when it was prepared and coated to be space (re-)worthy. To recap the voyage so far: a piece of the Campo del Cielo meteorite that fell to Earth over 5000 years ago was bought by artist Katie Paterson, based in Berlin. She took a mould of her piece of space rock, melted down the meteorite and reformed an exact copy. Now the rock has a new destination: the International Space Station via transport ship ATV George Lemaître that will be launched next year.
Materials and electrical components laboratory at ESTEC, The Netherlands
Before the meteorite-art can be sent to Earth’s space laboratory however, it needs to be prepared for safety at ESA’s Materials Space Evaluation and Radiation Effects laboratories at ESTEC, The Netherlands.
On a fine Dutch morning, ESA’s Space Station Logistics Engineer Bram Bekooy and Materials and Processes expert Marika Orlandi inspected the meteorite one last time.
Bram Bekooy measuring the meteorite
Its precise measurements and weight were recorded and a plan of action was decided upon: thorough cleaning to get rid of corrosion, vacuum treating the iron rock at 100°C for an hour, coating the piece of art in a protective silicone-based varnish and curing at 100°C.
The vacuum-cooking makes sure that any moisture on the meteorite’s surface is literally sucked off. Better to do this on Earth (where we can open the window to the laboratory and get some fresh air) rather than on the International Space Station where particles could build up and clog filters or even cause health problems for astronauts.
Catalin Fotea graciously agreed to help out on this project, providing a change of tasks from his usual role analysing and testing space-materials.
Cleaning Campo del Cielo
A paint job is only as good as its preparatory work, so rust and dirt must be carefully scraped off with a brush, space-worthy dental tools and a grinder. Once clean, blow away all remaining dust and rust with high-pressure air.
In the vacuum oven
Water and other volatile materials must be dealt with during an hour’s treatment in the vacuum oven at 100°C.
While the meteorite is vacuum-cooked, prepare the coating. Mix one part hardener to nine parts space-grade silicone compound. Stir vigorously until a smooth opaque mix is achieved. Pop the mixture in a vacuum chamber to outgas. Repeat until a clear liquid is achieved.
Remove meteorite from vacuum oven after one hour and allow to cool.
Apply previously prepared silicone mixture thoroughly to all surfaces, nooks and crannies. Place coated meteorite in preheated oven for curing at 100°C for one hour, or alternatively leave at room temperature for a few days.
And there you have it!
A safe, space-certified meteorite. With Catalina’s help and equipment, we went through the process in less than half a day.
The meteorite was placed in a zip-lock bag and is on its way to Turin, Italy, for loading onto ATV-5.
Next destination: space… first via plane to Europe’s Space Port in French Guiana and then on to ATV-5 cargo’s module to the International Space Station.
Ready again for space
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.
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 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.
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... .)
Joining ESA's Swarm mission pumpkins, the ATV team at Toulouse prove themselves masterful pumpkin carvers as well as masterful spacecraft operators.
Morgane (from the ESA team at ATV-CC) writes: "Colleen, our American colleague, was missing the Halloween tradition, so we pulled out our knives and attacked some helpless vegetables to create these ATV pumpkins for the office."
So, while we wait for ATV Albert Einstein’s reentry this Saturday, another film-based competition is in order:
Which ATV appears in the film Gravity? Was it ATV-1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?
Enter your answer in the comments of this blog post including a short description of what you think the frog (seen at the end of the film) symbolises?
Naming the correct ATV spacecraft and supplying the best/funniest answer to the second question will earn you an official ATV rucksack. We have goodies for two runners up, too!
Editor’s note: This competition is unofficial and not coordinated with the producers of Gravity. We do not endorse this nor any other film, but it’s pretty darn entertaining! See the science behind Gravity.
Fabulous tribute to ATV Albert Einstein from the crew in space
Update today from ESA's astro Luca and the crew of the ISS, celebrating the famous photo of Albert Einstein with his tongue stuck out. Fun in Zero G as ATV Albert Einstein departs Station!
From the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano paid tribute to the European Automated Transfer Vehicle Albert Einstein during a live event with universities in Italy, Germany and Israel on 24 October 2013.
The ATV-4 resupply vehicle arrived at the station in June, delivering more than 7 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Space Station crew. It will undock on 28 October and deorbit for a destructive entry back into the Earth's atmosphere over an uninhabited part of the Pacific Ocean.
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
03/06 - IMMT GO/NO-GO for launch & docking
05/06 - Lift-off Arianespace VA213 23:52 CEST
15/06 - Docking 15:46 CEST
28/10 - Undocking 9:55 CET
2/11 - Reentry 13:05 CET All future dates subject to change