ATV-4 launch 18 April 2013 - L - 4 months Ariane 5 VA211 launch - L - 8 hours
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
I am back in Kourou... it is a year since I was here but somehow it feels like yesterday. The space world is relatively small and very stable. We tend to stick to our projects until the very end and since many such projects last seven years, or more, we tend to run into the same people at regular intervals. ATV has been running since 1999 (at least in my case); Ariane for much longer. Therefore I start running into colleagues and acquaintances as soon as I enter the lounge at Orly.
Kourou, French Guiana Credits: ESA-S.Corvaja
Editor's note: The latest instalment in Deputy Mission Manager Charlotte Beskow's mission diary
ATV-3 preparation is entering the final stages!
ATV is in the high bay of S5C at Kourou, the very large integration hall located a few km away from the launch zone. It is in two pieces, space craft and cargo carrier. Teams are busy with several tasks in parallel and we are making up for lost time by working three shifts per day and Saturdays.
ATV-2 lift-off on board Ariane 5 ES v200 - view from ATV-CC
Charlotte Beskow continues to update us on the the progress of ATV. Earlier on Monday, she sent in a detailed review on happenings during the past few days, prior and after the launch. Read more of Charlotte's story below and after the jump.
Sunday, 20 February:the planners have their hands full!
D+4 and D-4
We live our lives as a function of 'D-x'. 'X' minutes before boost, 'Y' minutes before MSU activation, 'Z' minutes before health check, etc. With ATV in orbit, the teams in Toulouse are now working 24/7 monitoring the vehicle and uploading the necessary flight commands in order to get ATV to the correct point in space, in the correct condition, and at the correct time in order to start the rendezvous with the ISS on Thursday. Docking is scheduled at 15:45 (GMT) and each activity that leads to that event is calculated and entered into the mission plan as a function of that time. The planners have their hands full!
Feb 16 - launch day
The weather fates contributed suspense to last week's countdown! Right up to the last 40-50 minutes, I think most of us were mentally preparing for a repeat performance or the previous day's delay. As it turned out, this was not necessary. When Ariane put ATV into orbit right on time and 'spot on' with respect to the intended injection point, everybody drew visible signs of relief as the solar panels deployed correctly. Our colleagues in Toulouse kept us posted about the early operations via SMS messages that arrived at all times. This was very helpful!
Very nice report from 15 February by Canada's CBC on ATV launch - includes audio interview with Kirsten MacDonnell, ESA's (Canadian!) engineer looking after cargo and load planning. Access via CBC.ca
Operations timeline 15/16 February 2011
UPDATED FOR SECOND LAUNCH ATTEMPT 16 FEB 2011
1516 February is ATV Johannes Kepler launch day - it's show time (again)! ATV lift-off is set for 23:1322:50 CET on board Ariane 5 ES V200 (the 200th Ariane!) from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Below, we've listed the most critical steps that will take place today in the mission of Ariane 5 and ATV - we'll pin this post to the top of the blog so that you can refer back to it often.
ESA's Charlotte Beskow in Kourou just sent us a mail:
I am now on console. As I lift my head I see four clocks showing:
+14:53 || 21:50 || -06:57 || -06:57
... and my PC tells me "11:54" and my telephone tells me "15:54" - no wonder that it I feel slightly confused! Best to start today with a double coffee Actually, the only time I need to bear in mind is the countdown time showing hours to go until lift off, which is now -06:55. Seven hours to go - the filling of Ariane's main stage starts in roughly 2.5 hours. -- Charlotte
Photos just in from ESA team in Kourou
Charlotte Breskow reports: The ATV is ON. Gyros are warming up. Perfect time for a little break since their warm-up time is about 1 hour!
ESA's ATV Programme Manager Nico Dettmann on console this afternoon in Kourou's Jupiter Control Room
External view of Jupiter
Astrium's Olivier de la Bourdonnaye
and Wolfgang Paetcsh - Astrium is maker of the ATVs
14 Feb: Check-out of the communications equipment between ATV and
the EGSE - the box that connects ATV-CC to ATV (inspection of racks located inside the launch table)
Ariane update: What’s happening in Kourou?
ATV Johannes Kepler mounted under the fairing of Ariane 5
Here at ATV-CC Toulouse, we're in 'wait mode' for tonight's big event, but in Kourou, teams are busy now with final Ariane 5 launch preparations. It will be the 200th Ariane flight, lofting the sophisticated ATV Johannes Kepler into orbit. ATV-2 is the biggest and heaviest payload ever launched by Europe: Supplies to astronauts aboard the International Space Station and a huge rocket roaring up into the sky has to be one of the greatest shows on Earth!
Just couple of minutes ago, the launch preparations reached the moment when Ariane's electrical systems were checked. The countdown is a very carefully orchestrated sequence of tasks heading down to the ignition of the main stage engine - followed by the two boosters - for a liftoff at the targeted time. Read more about the launch countdown after the jump (and there's a perma link at top-right in the blog now to the detailed count-down timeline).
One bad quality photo and one taken this morning of the panneau des infos. Coming in to work, people gave me the thumbs up! We are in the Jupiter Control Room and have started the countdown. The CSG teams are busy checking the various means that allow them to stop/resume the countdown if necessary (i.e. the sending of RED/GREEN statuses from the applicable launch control team members). The VIPs are sitting in the designated area behind the glass partition. They are being given a presentation on the project and the planned activities. Needless to say it is all very exiting.
Diary from a space project : Countdown preparations have started
The latest (and possibly final?) installment from Charlotte Beskow in Kourou, sent in last night. She gives a review of what went on during yesterday's very impressive Ariane 5 roll-out. We've also pasted in a v. cool raw video extract courtesy of ESA TV (natural audio only - no narration) shot yesterday. Click on 'continue reading' below to read her full post - DGS
Kourou, Monday 14 February 2011
Today is D-1! Actually it is wrong to say "D-1" because it gives the impression we are almost at the end of the project. In fact, we are nearing the end of the preparation. The real fun is about to start!!!
Here in Kourou, it is easy to confuse the launch with the mission because for the people at CSG the launch **is** the purpose. As soon as we are off the ground and safely on our way to the ISS, their work with us is over and they have a new set of clients hammering at the door, waiting to get in [or get up? - Ed.].
Ariane 5 ES v200 launcher with ATV Johannes Kepler on board seen today during transfer to ZL-3 (launch pad 3) at Kourou.
Ariane 5 ES v200 launcher during transfer to ZL-3
Credit: ESA/S. Corvaja, 2011
Ariane 5 ES launcher v200 photographed on 14 February 2011 during transfer from the Final Assembly Building (BAF) to the Launch Zone (ZL-3), at Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA-3), Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport. Ariane was mated in the BAF with its payload, ATV Johannes Kepler, and now is ready for fuelling and final launch preparation.
ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle will be launched to the International Space Station on Tuesday, 15 February, at 22:13:27 GMT from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The unmanned vessel will deliver essential supplies and reboost the Station during its mission lasting three and half months.
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