The start of operations are not only visible to everyone at ATV-CC, but are also audible. The control centre has welcomed teams from the international ISS partners!
ATV-CC is ready. Credits : CNES/S.Girard, 2013
The first operational simulations were held at the start of last week and included ESA, NASA, Roscosmos and the industrial teams. In the corridors, German, English, French and Russian were heard each day; of course, English is the formal working language. At the first briefing, teams from ESA and CNES laid out the initial mission plan for ATV-4. This is a detailed and precise roadmap that provides the exact chronological sequence for all activities at ATV-CC until 15 June – the planned docking day.
Editor's note: As of this AM, the Joint International Simulation resulted in ATV-CC being declared ready for launch.
Today at ATV-CC: crucial part of this week’s simulation
This sent in early this AM by ESA's deputy mission manager, Charlotte Beskow - Ed.
The simulation of the complete ATV-4 launch-to-docking mission steps is approaching the most interesting part: rendezvous (RDV) and docking. It has been a very busy 'sim' week with a large number of interesting (and, thankfully, false) 'failures' that have kept all of us awake most hours of the day.
Flight control team at work in ATV-CC during docking simulation 8 Feb 2013. Credit: ESA/C. Beskow
It is now 5:00 CET and everyone is rather tired but this has been a very interesting week; in a few hours it will be over for this Sim.
For the ESA Engineering Support Team (EST), there will be just enough time to head back to the hotel, sleep a few hours, check out, go back for debriefing And then head to the airport...
We are all hoping that the actual flight of ATV Albert Einstein will be much smoother!
EST at ATV-CC 8 Feb 2013 Credit: ESA/C. Beskow
Simulation training at ATV-CC today
This week is a "hard week" at ATV-CC in Toulouse, France, according to ESA Mission Director Daniel Firre. The joint ESA/CNES mission control team is undergoing three days of rigorous simulation training, in which teams must deal with a range of problems and contingency situations that may arise during the real mission, set for launch on 9 March.
Docking simulation training at ATV-CC 26 January 2012. Credit: ESA/J. Harrod
"Today, ATV autonomously entered 'survival mode' - safe mode - just one minute after our until-then nominal docking. We don't know why! We did not yet establish a cable power connection to the ISS, and the ATV solar panels are not getting much sunlight, so we're on batteries and the clock is ticking. We have to figure out what caused the survival mode and fix the problem," says Daniel, speaking during a very short lunch break.
The faults, of course, are all artificially injected into the mission control system (who have no warning or advance notice) by a team of simulation engineers working in a separate room. While stressful, the realistic training is designed to prepare the controllers to handle any possible contingency situation that may occur during the real mission.
ATV launch and docking sim: This is a weird week
Tuesday, 05:47 in the ATV-CC Engineering Support Team room
Update from Charlotte Beskow on this week's simulation at ATV-CC - Ed.
Launch simulation during ATV-2
This is a weird week! Weird because the timing is completely 'off' - we are in Day 2 of a 5-day simulation with operations running 24h/24h and I am doing the night shifts. The clock on the wall tells me it is Thursday, 3 March 2012, at 04:48, but the lights are the same as if it was 10:00 in the morning and the people around me are pretty much the same that I meet during a 'normal' day.
Yesterday, Monday, we simulated launch and the initial steps of ATV's Launch and Early Operations Phase (the famous 'LEOP'). The simulation people - the trainers who pace us, the team, through a complete preplanned scenario - must have been preparing for this week for some time because they had certainly come up with an imaginative series of failures for us to handle.
Personally, I had not sat in front of the consoles since June 2011 when we deorbited ATV Johannes Kepler and so my reflexes were a bit rusty. In addition, the difference between simulated time and ground time necessitates some mental acrobatics when making data requests, etc. Things like passwords, log-in addresses, etc., are usually memorised in the fingertips, rather than the brain, but over five months, this capability disappears. Consequently, I was looking forward to a quiet simulation of ATV's phasing orbits (the ones after launch but before docking) in order to ease back in and refresh my memory.
Yesterday's shifts proved to be anything but quiet.
For your Saturday evening enjoyment! A gem of a video originally published on ATV launch day, which - of course - quickly sank down the newslist. ESA's Adam Williams explains how the ATV-CC team has come together to work as one while getting ready for the launch and - still to come - docking. Definitely worth a second look - or first, if you missed it during launch day excitement. -- DGS
As we watch the clock for today's new launch attempt, due at 22:50 CET tonight, here is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how the ATV-CC team gets trained - an interview with ESA's Adam Williams. Adam is the specialist who oversees training and simulations for the joint ESA/CNES operations team here, and in today's video he explains the complexities of training mission controllers on ATV's sophisticated systems and how team work emerges when challenges are overcome.
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
ATV launch ‘dress rehearsal’ at Kourou today
Jupiter Control Room at Kourou - next time, it's for real
It's a big day at Kourou - and, in fact, on several other continents! The 'Repetition Generale' - launch dress rehearsal - gets underway at 14:08 CET. It then runs in 'real-time' for 9hrs 30mins up to the actual planned launch time on 15 February (H0 = 23:08 CET) and finishes 3 hrs later, at the end of the Ariane 5 flight.
At various times during the rehearsal, numerous ESA teams will be directly involved, simulating their roles to follow for real in just six days:
In Kourou, at Arianespace's Launcher Control Centre: ESA's ATV programme head Nico Dettmann and deputy Charlotte Beskow will sit on console in the Jupiter Control Room, from where the flight of Ariane 5 V200 will be controlled.
In France, at ATV-CC: Members of the joint ESA/CNES mission operations team will be on console, with ESA's Jean-Michel Bois in the Mission Director's chair
In the Azores, at ESA's Santa Maria tracking station: Gerhard Billing, from ESOC's ESTRACK network engineering team, is on site to oversee the crucial Ariane 5 launcher tracking and receipt of telemetry
In Australia, at ESA's Perth tracking station: Robert Launer, also from the ESTRACK team, is on site to oversee that station's tracking of Ariane 5
In addition, many more ESA specialists involved with ATV across the Agency will be paying close attention to the rehearsal results. We'll provide updates later on as we receive news from these locations.
Launch simulation at ATV control centre today
Launch simulation 27 January
The ESA-CNES team at ATV-CC are in an intensive simulation today practising the ATV launch and critical LEOP (launch and early orbit phase) periods. Today's activity involves ATV-CC only, says Mission Director Kris Capelle, as there will be additional simulations next week conducted jointly with the Ariane launch control centre at Kourou.
Note that tomorrow afternoon, starting around 16:00 CET, the flight control team here will, for the first time, receive live telemetry from ATV Johannes Kepler mounted on top of Ariane 5.
Gallery with some quick pics from today via flickr.com/esa_events below.
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 All dates subject to change