Tonight in Kourou: lowering the huge Ariane 5 fairing over ATV-3
An excellent series of images taken in the past few hours showing the work taking place this evening in Kourou's BAF building, as the aerodynamic fairing is lowered over top of ATV-3.
These provide some of the final views of ATV-3 that we'll see until its in orbit and approaching the International Space Station.
Many thanks to ESA's Alberto Novelli for taking time to send these in!
One of the final views on Earth of the ATV-3 nose cone Credit: ESA/A. Novelli
Ariane 5's huge fairing about to be lifted into place over ATV-3 Credit: ESA/A. Novelli
ATV-3 ready for fairing lowering in Kourou Credit: ESA/A. Novelli
Ariane 5 fairing being slowly lowered over ATV-3 in Kourou. Credit: ESA
Ariane 5's aerodynamic fairing almost settled into place over ATV-3 Credit: ESA/A. Novelli
TV monitor view of Ariane fairing encapsulating ATV-3 in Kourou Credit: ESA
Ariane 5 fairing seen via TV monitor, now lowered over top of ATV-3 Credit: ESA
ATV-2 mission profile: up close and personal
A little treat for a Saturday evening, just three days before lift off: The best ATV mission profile video yet produced! This video was produced by ESA and shows in exquisite detail how ATV Johannes Kepler gets into orbit, catches up with Station, performs a sophisticated automatic docking, serves as an integral portion of the ISS during the attached phase, and then undocks, departs and reenters.
ESA's Charlotte Beskow sent in her latest Kourou Diary update last night: a very nice review of the past incredibly busy week at Kourou - which included closing the hatch and lowering the fairing over ATV. Today's post also contains some nice snaps of French Guiana seen from 1000m up!. Thanks Charlotte!
D – 8 : The week in review Kourou, 5 February 2011 – Saturday
Time flies... At the beginning of the week, we were back in 'nominal' mode, i.e. any of the delays had been recovered and the following Saturday–Sunday could be treated as 'margin'. By Tuesday [1 Feb] the margin was in play. But first things first: Last Sunday…
Sunday, 30 January – rest day
ESA's Charlotte Beskow: Deputy ATV Mission Manager
Arianespace and ESA invited all the teams for a social event outside Kourou. Before selecting the venue, the organisers had carefully weighed the weather report… you do not really want to do any outdoor activities in the rainy season if the likelihood is that you’ll get drenched. So far, we have been fairly lucky since I came out on 20 January. Generally, the days are sunny, occasionally interrupted by a heavy downpour. This Sunday, the weather held and we had a full day of go-cart competitions, paint-ball, 4-wheel driving on a forest trail, etc. The go-cart and the forest trail were the most popular ones and we all got spattered with mud from head to toe.
Nico Dettmann, Head of ESA's ATV Production Programme
... and this came in overnight from ESA's ATV production programme head, Nico Dettmann, in Kourou, who was on hand as the Ariane fairing was lowered over top of ATV. Nico wrote:
The picture shows ATV mounted on the top of the launcher. A few minutes later it was fully covered by the fairing, which was like the sword of Damocles hanging just over the ATV. The speed at which the fairing was moved down by the crane let my heart stop beating but it was perfectly centred. I was one of the last 15 people to see Johannes Kepler on Earth! Regards, Nico
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