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!
Charlotte in Kourou: 7 hours to go!
ESA's Charlotte Beskow in Kourou just sent us a mail:
I am now on console. As I lift my head I see four clocks showing:
+14:53 || 21:50 || -06:57 || -06:57
... and my PC tells me "11:54" and my telephone tells me "15:54" - no wonder that it I feel slightly confused! Best to start today with a double coffee Actually, the only time I need to bear in mind is the countdown time showing hours to go until lift off, which is now -06:55. Seven hours to go - the filling of Ariane's main stage starts in roughly 2.5 hours. -- Charlotte
Update from Kourou: Launch Control Centre
This just in from ESA's Charlotte Beslow:
One bad quality photo and one taken this morning of the panneau des infos. Coming in to work, people gave me the thumbs up! We are in the Jupiter Control Room and have started the countdown. The CSG teams are busy checking the various means that allow them to stop/resume the countdown if necessary (i.e. the sending of RED/GREEN statuses from the applicable launch control team members). The VIPs are sitting in the designated area behind the glass partition. They are being given a presentation on the project and the planned activities. Needless to say it is all very exiting.
Kourou diary: It’s quite exiting to hear each team give their GO / NOGO for ATV launch!
ATV-2 on board Ariane 5
In parallel the LRR also gave its OK - ATV is now formally cleared for launch on 15 February.
The latest report from ESA's Charlotte Beskow in Kourou, received earlier today.
11 February 2011 D - 3: Two important milestones complete
Since I arrived in Kourou in mid-January, we have been rather lucky with the weather. The rainy season has started but in a gentle manner. The showers, up until the end of last week, have been intense but short and it has been possible to catch some relaxing moments by the pool from time to time.
All that changed a few days ago as heavy clouds rolled in from the Atlantic, accompanied by strong winds. Suddenly, everyone is carrying umbrellas. Actually it is probably a good business to sell umbrellas here since the wind will promptly turn them inside out. But with or without an umbrella you will get drenched during these downpours since the rain gets at you from all sides (a bit like in Noordwijk - where ESA's Human Spaceflight team is based). Better to just wait it out. This means you do get unplanned (but welcome) breaks as you huddle somewhere, waiting for the squall to pass.
We had two important meetings this morning: the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) and the ISS Mission Management Team (IMMT) meeting with NASA. IMMT is a board that meets weekly to review upcoming activities on the ISS. This week's IMMT was extra important since it would give an OK/NOK for ATV launch and docking to the ISS.
Rehearsal: It’s great to be at this stage
This just in from ESA's Charlotte Beskow in Kourou for today's dress rehearsal:
Yes, both Nico Dettmann and I will be on console. We are monitoring overall ATV status as well as the planned activations on the ATV vessel and at ATV-CC Toulouse. We also check to see that we receive readiness confirmation form our ISS partners. We will receive updates from the DDO (launch range director) and CM (mission director) here at CSG (Centre Spatial Guyanais) on facilities and launcher preparations and readiness.
When ATV is activated, we will see live telemetry on screen flowing from Johannes Kepler. At CSG and at all down-range stations, everyone is active and taking part - just like on launch day, D0.
After today's dress rehearsal, the overall configuration of the ground systems at CSG will be frozen - no more changes allowed! It is great to be at this stage. -- Charlotte
Diary from a space project : Feb 7
Some of the team at Kourou
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.
Diary from a space project : Feb 5
View from 1000m
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.
Final view of ATV on Earth
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
Last view of ATV-2 before encapsulation
Ariane 5 fairing is now being lowered over ATV
... this just in from Charlotte in Kourou
Ariane 5 fairing being lowered over ATV
Diary from a space project : Feb 4
Just in this morning from Charlotte at the start of a busy and crucial day at Kourou: installation of the fairing and encapsulation of ATV Johannes Kepler. She has also send in some neat photos. Thanks Charlotte!
D – 9 : Today is fairing day
Kourou, 4 February 2011 – Friday
This day is fixed in the launcher schedule - which means that it always occurs eight working days before the launch. Depending on how the work is going, this can be with or without Saturdays and Sundays.
We are just about to start the next-to-last main inspection check point before authorising the fairing. The last check point comes at 11:00 [15:00 CET] today - just before Arianespace starts hoisting the fairing at 12:00 [16:00 CET]. (She sent us the photos around 14:30 CET - Ed.)
ATV with most of the protections removed. Credits: ESA/C Beskow
ATV with most of its protection removed. Astrium people are busy putting the protection back into its casings for transport back to S5C.
Ariane fairing - progress is being made! Credits: ESA/C Beskow
When I leave the ATV BAF platform, on my way, I see the Arianespace teams who have made lots of progress. It's looking good!
Solar Array Protections. Credits: ESA/C Beskow
The Solar Array Protections.
Red flags on thrusters. Credits: ESA/C Beskow
Just like aircraft protection, the thrusters are marked with bold RED flags so that the protection cannot