ATV reboosts & O2 delivery – and Japan quake disrupts ISS operations
In the past few days, we picked up several bits of ATV- and station-related news, which we've wrapped up below into today's Sunday morning update. (Click on 'continue reading' below for the full post.)
First, from ESA's Charlotte Beskow at the ATV programme office, who emailed to report on the results of the oxygen (O2) release that took place Friday, 11 March. ISS flight engineer Paolo Nespoli set up ATV's Gas Control Panel (GCP) for a 10-mmHg O2 (oxygen) delivery - the '10mmHg' refers to the amount of gas to be released in terms of an increase in pressure inside the ISS.
He then conducted the first pressurization of the ISS cabin atmosphere from the ATV Gas Delivery System (GDS)'s gas line No. 1. Basically, this involves operating a valve to release the oxygen into the interior compartment of the ATV, which since docking on 24 February, is simply an integral interior portion of the ISS - and the O2 diffuses into the Station.
An animation showing a reboost performed by ATV Jules Verne in 2008
ATV Jules Verne 2008 - loose thermal blanket can be seen at upper left
A few days ago, @Space_Pete sent in a query via Twitter asking about the Multi-Layer Insulation issue that occurred with ATV Jules Verne in 2008 and how this had been addressed for ATV Johannes Kepler. His question referred to a problem that occurred during the ATV-1 mission when, after launch, portions of the MLI - the brilliant, white thermal blanket that covers the ATV - came lose from several mooring points and, basically, just flapped free.
The absence of thermal protection over portions of the ATV's Integrated Cargo Carrier (the portion of ATV that carries the cargo) allowed heat to leak to space and caused some on-board heaters to work more than expected. Because the thermal and power situation remained acceptable, however, this was not considered a problem and the mission continued normally.
We passed the question over the ESA's Nico Dettmann, Head of the ATV Production Programme, who sent in this reply.
The Jules Verne Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) partially detached from its fixation points because of a 'ballooning' or 'pillowing' effect of the MLI blankets. The depressurisation rate during lift off was underestimated. As a result, the air captured in the MLI compartments - basically, underneath the blanket - could not escape fast enough, leading the MLI to 'balloon' up. The MLI attachment points were not designed to withstand the resulting forces of the ballooning and partially detached.
Both the ballooning and the detachment were clearly visible in the photos taken from the ISS cameras when Jules Verne arrived at the station of docking.
For your Saturday evening enjoyment! A gem of a video originally published on ATV launch day, which - of course - quickly sank down the newslist. ESA's Adam Williams explains how the ATV-CC team has come together to work as one while getting ready for the launch and - still to come - docking. Definitely worth a second look - or first, if you missed it during launch day excitement. -- DGS
As we watch the clock for today's new launch attempt, due at 22:50 CET tonight, here is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how the ATV-CC team gets trained - an interview with ESA's Adam Williams. Adam is the specialist who oversees training and simulations for the joint ESA/CNES operations team here, and in today's video he explains the complexities of training mission controllers on ATV's sophisticated systems and how team work emerges when challenges are overcome.
The Sun’s up and LEOP is winding down
Jean Michel Bois in ATV-CC just prior to launch 16 Feb 2011
A short but very pleasant note came in this morning from ESA's Jean Michel Bois, head of the ESA team here at ATV-CC, who was on shift as Mission Director in the main control room during last night's launch and LEOP (launch and early orbit phase). He wrote:
The Sun's up this morning and the LEOP phase of ATV-2 is over. What a fabulous night! ATV Johannes Kepler is now in the sky and ready for its first manoeuvres to chase after the ISS.
After the disappointment on the 15th when the Ariane countdown was stopped a few minutes before the lift-off, yesterday was a perfect Ariane 5 mission - ending with a very accurate injection into orbit. The level of pressure at ATV-CC was very high as our teams waited for ATV's separation from the upper stage, ready to take control of the vehicle. When the first telemetry from ATV was received by our computers, we knew that launch - a major step - was a success.
Then, one after the other, we could watch the pre-planned events happening on our screens as ATV's systems came to life! These included:
See how ATV-2 was made! From bits and pieces to a fully built spacecraft squatting atop Ariane 5 ready to go - with a cool soundtrack, too. A new video from ESA that tells 'the story so far' of Johannes Kepler (hint: there's lots more to come!).
See ATV better than ever
New ATV interactive factsheet with 3D tools
The latest version of the ATV Johannes Kepler fact sheet includes a cool 3D animation - you can turn the vessel around and look it from every angle.
Zoom to details, change lights, cut it to cross sections or make the walls transparent. It's ATV as close and as personal as can be seen - without seeing the actual ATV!
Approximately 15 media from Germany and Belgium were present, and the Q&A session - with Mission Director Capelle, Head Engineer Leiseifer and astronauts De Winne and Gerst - was quite lively. Listen to the audio recording below and click on 'continue reading' to access the PPTs.
Santa Maria station, part of ESA's ESTRACK network
When ATV Johannes Kepler is lofted into space on 15 February, an ESA tracking station on Portugal's Santa Maria island will watch closely, gathering crucial data as Ariane 5 streaks overhead.
In 2008, the Santa Maria station, located five kilometres from the town of Vila do Porto on the Portuguese island of Santa Maria, in the Azores, became the latest station to join ESA's global ESTRACK tracking network. Santa Maria's 5.5 m-diameter antenna provides crucial tracking services for Ariane 5 rockets as they boost Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) into orbit.
Last night's Kourou Diary update from Charlotte Beskow. This time: teams burn the candle late on three continents as Launch Readiness Review looms nearer. Thanks Charlotte!
D – 6 : Launch Readiness Review Kourou, 7 February 2011 – Monday
Monday evening now... and it's far too late!
Today, we tested the Red and Green Signals from the Control Room. These
signals slow or stop the countdown in case of problems either with ATV or
with the Control Centre. Another step on the road to launch!
Now, we are busy with the Certificate of Flight Readiness - a truly worldwide effort! There are numerous teams working across the globe: The lights are burning late in Kourou, Houston, Paris, Noordwijk, Bremen, Cologne, Moscow and who knows where else. Everyone is plodding away, closing out our various actions in order to get the certificate of flight readiness signed off.
And speaking of launches, we're also delighted to see that the ATV blog is now fully linked from the main ESA web portal (see 'Focus On' at top right of the home page) and from ESA's ATV and Operations news sites. As a result, we'll mark today as the blog's formal launch date - welcome to our ATV-2 coverage!
Also, our colleague Fabien Dussarrat, editor at the French-language CNES ATV blog, has just posted a nice note and link back to us (see "L'ESA lance son blog") - thanks to Fabien and to the team at CNES - we look forward to working with you during the Kepler mission.
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