A brief note came in last night via Alberto Novelli (Mission Manager for ATV-4) in Kourou. He spoke with ESA's Laurent Brothier, working on the ATV-3 Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) team at Kourou.
Last night, Arianespace workers completed installing the Ariane 5 fairings on top of ATV Edoardo Amaldi. Laurent took part in the operation, which included only one ESA representative (plus one from Astrium--maker of the ATV vessels as this is a hazardous activity - Ed.). Laurent explains:
It was really impressive to see the long Ariane 5 fairing appear all of a sudden from the BAF (Batiment d'Assemblage Final) chimney [lift]. We had just completed the last inspections of ATV-3 in the morning and the vessel was ready to be encapsulated.
When looking then inside the fairing, the impression was that--compared to ATV dimensions--even it would be too small!! After few minutes the large crane positioned this big piece of hardware on top of the ATV, and the Arianespace operators started to release it with extreme precision for several meters, up to 30 centimetres from the interface to the launcher--wow! That was fast!
For the last few centimetres, the fairing was very precisely positioned, until it gently stopped in its final position.
The final operation was fixing and tightening 420 bolts all around the launcher
I said 'Goodbye' to ATV--until we see it soon on the ISS screens!!