Jean-Michel Bois, Head of the ESA Operations Team at the joint ESA-CNES ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, sent in this great news yesterday.
By the way: In the note below, JMB mentions the ATV ground segment. For details, see our Techno-talk Unzipped section, and scroll down to 'ground segment.' -- Daniel
On 17 January, a key milestone in the preparation of the ATV-CC and the ground segment was successfully achieved!
ATV Ground Segment
The Joint Operations Readiness Review (JORR) concluded that ATV-CC and the ground segment are ready to conduct ATV-3 operations.
In the review, the ATV-3 Mission Manager, Massimo Cislaghi, the Head of ATV Operations, Jean-Michel Bois, and their Houston and Moscow operations counterparts verified that ATV-CC facilities, the communication networks and the links with ATV via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) and ESA's own Artemis data relay satellite are ready to support the mission.
The final, full 'dress rehearsal' of the countdown and launch was held on 9 February at the Arianespace Launch Control Centre in Kourou.
The following day, 10 February, ATV successfully passed its final test, the Launch Readiness Review (LRR), held between Kourou and engineers and programme team members at ESA's ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre) Establishment, in the Netherlands, ESA headquarters in Paris and ESA & CNES mission controllers at ATV-CC in Toulouse.
ESA's Jean-Michel Bois, Mission Director and ESA Team Leader at ATV-CC, said: "The LRR's goal was to check the final status of ATV before launch, including both the ground and flight segments. The conclusion of the LRR is unequivocal: we are 'GO' for launch."
On behalf of ESA, Bois also thanked: "all teams working on this mission for their high-quality work undertaken in a truly effective and professional manner."
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.
ISS RS flight directors met in the MCC (mission control centre) yesterday to analyse the results of the personnel training on operations with European cargo spaceship ATV-2. The directors decided on readiness of the MCC ops people to control the mission. According to preliminary data, ATV2 Johannes Kepler is slated for launch from Kourou in French Guiana on Feb. 16, at 01:13:26 Moscow time (Feb 15, 22:13:26 GMT).
Nice video released today by ESA TV! In recent weeks several space freighters, the Russian Progress and Japanese HTV, have arrived at the International Space Station. But the most important logistics spacecraft for the ISS is Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle.
The ATV-2 called Johannes Kepler is to be launched from Kourou in just over a week and will be docking at the orbital complex on February 23rd with over 7 tonnes of cargo.
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.
I spoke briefly with ESA's Kris Capelle at ESOC yesterday. Kris is Mission Director Leader at ATV-CC and is responsible for the overall operational activities for ATV-2; he also worked on the Flight Operations Management Team for ATV-1 in 2007-08. Kris mentioned several key dates coming up for the ATV-CC team, which I pass along below. ESA ATV blog co-editor Jari Makinen and myself will be at ATV-CC next week to interview the extended team on both the ESA and CNES side and get as much background info as we can on the increasingly intense preparations for launch. ... which we'll post here in the blog, naturally!
18 Jan - Stage Operations Readiness Review (SORR) was completed in Houston with all ISS partners. Kris said: "The pressure was on us to demonstrate to the ISS partners that ATV is ready for launch. ATV is good to go!"
25 & 28 Jan - End-to-end readiness testing at ATV-CC involving the complete ATV ground segment. The test on the 28th will include receipt at ATV-CC of 'live' telemetry from ATV mounted on top of its Ariane 5 launcher.
2 Feb - Dress rehearsal and simulation with Houston and Moscow control centres of complete time period between rendezvous, at approximately 3000m, up to docking with the ISS.
9 Feb - Count-down and launch rehearsal including ATV-CC and the Arianespace launch control centre in Kourou
10 Feb - Launch Readiness Review (LRR)
11 Feb - ATV-CC Ground Segment network final readiness check with International Partners
13 Feb (L-3 days) - Revue Avant Lancement (RAL; 'Review before launch') - date to be confirmed
And, of course:
15 February – ATV Johannes Kepler launch from Kourou, 22:07 UT (23:07) CET
Note that all of these dates are subject to change - meaning you should check back in the blog regularly.
ATV Johannes Kepler on track for 15 February launch
Artist's impression of ATV mission cycle from launch to reentry Credt: ESA/D. Ducros
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