… and the dashboard-cam view of Ariane VA213 liftoff!
We know that you, too, were waiting to see ATV-4 lofted into space from a roadside in Kourou!
ATV-4 launch date set for 5 June 2013
Lift-off for ATV Albert Einstein on board Ariane flight VA213 from Kourou is now planned for 5 June 2013. Details later.
Back in Kourou
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.
Perfect liftoff: The coming days will definitely be busy
Diary from a space project 24 March, Saturday, L+1
This sent in from ESA's Charlotte Beskow, deputy ATV team head, from Toulouse, yesterday, the day after ATV-3 launch and covers Friday and Saturday - Ed.
D0 -- 23 March: Launch (in the very early hours of the morning!) Solar arrays deployment: done
D+5 --28 March: Docking to the ISS set for late evening 28 March (22:34 UTC, which is 00:34 CEST on 29 March) so this is ~D-4.5
ESA/CNES mission controllers on console in ATV-CC 22 March Credit: CNES
Update from Toulouse and the ATV-CC
23 March -- Early Friday morning
My alarm rings at 03:45... actually, I have been wide awake since 03:00, and I started by immediately checking the voice recorder of CNES. All is green! Quick breakfast before the taxi arrives. Outside it is cold and foggy.
I get to the CNES establishment in Toulouse (CST - Centre spatial de Toulouse - Ed.) at the same time as the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) team shift. Everyone is exited! The final verification of GPS data and first mission plan were done from the expert's hotel lobby last night. All was OK. This morning it seems as if the weather will cooperate.
Engineering Support Team (EST) room at ATV-CC for ATV-3 launch Credit: ESA/C. Beskow
How do we know who is where? Easy: we have a multi-coloured Excel spreadsheet posted at the exit of the room (see photo below)! Each technical/engineering function has a colour and each person has a line!
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!
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:
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.
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).
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