According to the planned Ariane launch events list, here's what's happening in Kourou this afternoon. All times approximate and given with respect to -H0 (23:56 CEST):
11h Start of final countdown
7h Check of electrical systems
4h Start of filling of main cryogenic stage with liquid oxygen and hydrogen
3h Chilldown of Vulcain main stage engine
1h Check of connections between launcher and telemetry, tracking and command systems
ESA Mission Director Kris Capelle: ready for today’s launch
UPDATED WITH EDITED VIDEO FILE - 16.02 20:41 CET
ESA's lead ATV Mission Director, Kris Capelle, explains what's happening today at ATV-CC as the mission operations team gets ready for tonight's Ariane 5 launch. Yesterday's launch attempt was scrubbed following a measurement anomaly in the liquid oxygen propellant tank of the cryogenic main stage of the Ariane 5 launcher. The new launch time has been set for today, 16 February, at 22:50:55 CET. (Thanks Jari for an excellent video edit!)
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
New launch time: Tonight at 22:50:55 CET
What happened yesterday?
At this moment, everything was still GO.
The final countdown was stopped 4 minutes and 1 second before the planned launch time because of a measurement anomaly in the liquid oxygen propellant tank of the cryogenic main stage for Ariane 5's Flight v200 launch.
Images from Kourou
The launch vehicle and its payload - the Automated Transfer Vehicle Johannes Kepler - remain on the pad in safe mode, awaiting a restart of launch countdown today, 16 February.
The new launch time is set for tonight at 21:50:55 UTC = 18:50:55 local time in Kourou = 22:50:55 CET.
The teams here at ATV-CC have planned for launch delays many times in training; the trajectory calculations and related actions are now being verified and the control room is ready for the new launch attempt this evening.
ATV-CC on Wednesday morning at 9:50 CET
Countdown clock set to new launch time
… and some photos from ATV-CC Toulouse
It's silent in Toulouse right now: the calm before a storm of activity! Some of the ATV engineers and controllers are going home for a quick meal and rest before an action-packed night - but some are already now on console!
ATV-CC on 15 February at 18:20 CET
Observation room is already prepared for VIPs
Update from Kourou: Launch Control Centre
This just in from ESA's Charlotte Beslow:
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.].
If you are in Kourou, the launch preparations of Ariane 5 v200 with ATV Johannes Kepler on board are now also visible - no more mere simulations, testing or work inside the high-rise buildings.
Today, just like always before a launch, the launch vehicle is being rolled out and transported to the launch pad. For the 200th launch of Ariane and the second launch of ATV, this is happening now..!
ESA's Charlotte Beskow, in Kourou, has sent some great photos; check back in the blog for more images later today!
Road is closed!
One day before launch: Today is Launch Monday L-1
ATV-2 on board Ariane 5
Today is 'Launch Monday' - noted as 'L-1' in the mission planning documentation - and there are a number of crucial activities that will be taking place at Kourou, French Guiana, and at ATV-CC in Toulouse. Tomorrow: the 200th flight will loft by far the heaviest payload ever launched by Ariane 5 - more than 20 tonnes - into a circular orbit at an altitude of 260 kilometres, inclined at 51.6 degrees.
Today, teams across Arianespace, ESA and CNES will be hard at work getting ready for the start of the countdown clock (due Tuesday, 15 February at 11:43 CET - 11hr30min prior to launch).
(1) At Europe's Spaceport in Kourou:
Ariane 5 ES flight v200 with ATV Kepler on board - Roll-out from the vertical integration building (BAF) to Launch Area (ZL); both are located at the ELA3 launch site
At the Launch Area, ground teams will establish data and power connections to Ariane and ATV, and begin filling the main cryogenic stage (called the EPC - Etage Principal Cryotechnique) with liquid Helium (more info here)
(2) And at ATV-CC Toulouse:
ATV Johannes Kepler final flight dynamics calculations were completed yesterday (13 Feb) and will be stored on board today. The exact launch time (23:13:27 CET - Toulouse local time) according to the updated trajectory data from the ISS has been provided to Arianespace. (We've also updated the countdown clock in the blog - Ed.)
Additional data sets will be uploaded to ATV's computers, including GPS files the final pre-flight Onboard Mission Plan (OMP) - the detailed commands that tell ATV what do to and when to do it.
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