ATV Jules Verne 2008 - loose thermal blanket can be seen at upper left
A few days ago, @Space_Pete sent in a query via Twitter asking about the Multi-Layer Insulation issue that occurred with ATV Jules Verne in 2008 and how this had been addressed for ATV Johannes Kepler. His question referred to a problem that occurred during the ATV-1 mission when, after launch, portions of the MLI - the brilliant, white thermal blanket that covers the ATV - came lose from several mooring points and, basically, just flapped free.
The absence of thermal protection over portions of the ATV's Integrated Cargo Carrier (the portion of ATV that carries the cargo) allowed heat to leak to space and caused some on-board heaters to work more than expected. Because the thermal and power situation remained acceptable, however, this was not considered a problem and the mission continued normally.
We passed the question over the ESA's Nico Dettmann, Head of the ATV Production Programme, who sent in this reply.
The Jules Verne Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) partially detached from its fixation points because of a 'ballooning' or 'pillowing' effect of the MLI blankets. The depressurisation rate during lift off was underestimated. As a result, the air captured in the MLI compartments - basically, underneath the blanket - could not escape fast enough, leading the MLI to 'balloon' up. The MLI attachment points were not designed to withstand the resulting forces of the ballooning and partially detached.
Both the ballooning and the detachment were clearly visible in the photos taken from the ISS cameras when Jules Verne arrived at the station of docking.
Very nice report from 15 February by Canada's CBC on ATV launch - includes audio interview with Kirsten MacDonnell, ESA's (Canadian!) engineer looking after cargo and load planning. Access via CBC.ca
The Making of ATV: Super Rock Video 2.0
See how ATV-2 was made! From bits and pieces to a fully built spacecraft squatting atop Ariane 5 ready to go - with a cool soundtrack, too. A new video from ESA that tells 'the story so far' of Johannes Kepler (hint: there's lots more to come!).
ATV – Key asset for ESA’s Human Spaceflight Programme
ESA TV have released another cool video on ATV! This new clip highlights the importance of Europe having its own cargo spacecraft and the role of ATV for the ISS in the perspective of ESA's Human Spaceflight programme. The video blurb states, in part:
Johannes Kepler is the [next] production unit of the automated transport vehicle-series following on from the highly successful 2008 first flight model Jules Verne. After the retirement of the US Space Shuttle, it will become the largest vehicle supplying the ISS. With ATV, Europe is serving as a key pillar in ISS logistics.
ATV media briefing – presentation files and mp3 audio
Approximately 15 media from Germany and Belgium were present, and the Q&A session - with Mission Director Capelle, Head Engineer Leiseifer and astronauts De Winne and Gerst - was quite lively. Listen to the audio recording below and click on 'continue reading' to access the PPTs.
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.
ESA Mission Director Kris Capelle: ATV’s mission uncovered
We met last week at ATV-CC with ESA's lead Mission Director, Kris Capelle, who oversees all operational aspects of the Johannes Kepler mission. In today's video, he talks us through the complete ATV mission profile from launch to reentry, and provides an authentic, 'working-level' view into the challenges of flying Europe's sophisticated ISS cargo vessel.
Europe’s ATV space ferry ready for launch
ESA's newest press release was published today reporting loud and clear that ATV Johannes Kepler is ready for launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday, 15 February, at 22:08 GMT (23:08 CET) 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-a-half months.
ESA TV has aired today an excellent background video highlighting the cargo loading activities (we'll have a detailed report & photos from Kourou in the blog within tomorrow). Watch the video below (very nice job by our colleague Martin Ransom) and read the rest of the press release after the jump.
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