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!
Diary from a space project : Feb 20, D +/-4
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!
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:
Operations timeline 15/16 February 2011
UPDATED FOR SECOND LAUNCH ATTEMPT 16 FEB 2011
15 16 February is ATV Johannes Kepler launch day - it's show time (again)! ATV lift-off is set for 23:13 22:50 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.
Photos just in from ESA team in Kourou
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 5/ATV-2 launch webcast
Webcast START 15.02 22:45 CET - END 16.02 01:35 CET
Ariane 5 & ATV at Kourou’s launch pad No. 3
Ariane 5 ES v200 launcher with ATV Johannes Kepler on board seen today during transfer to ZL-3 (launch pad 3) at Kourou.
Ariane 5 ES v200 launcher during transfer to ZL-3
Credit: ESA/S. Corvaja, 2011
Ariane 5 ES launcher v200 photographed on 14 February 2011 during transfer from the Final Assembly Building (BAF) to the Launch Zone (ZL-3), at Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA-3), Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport. Ariane was mated in the BAF with its payload, ATV Johannes Kepler, and now is ready for fuelling and final launch preparation.
ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle will be launched to the International Space Station on Tuesday, 15 February, at 22:13:27 GMT from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The unmanned vessel will deliver essential supplies and reboost the Station during its mission lasting three and half months.