Live video feed from ATV-CC, Toulouse, for today's re-entry (scroll down to see our periodic blog updates).
NOTE: This is a technical feed only, and audio may not always be present. We expect to start around 12:30 CET and run for about 75 mins. Live video from the ISS showing ATV-4 re-entry, if available, will start around 12:55 CET. Main re-entry 'streak' expected at 13:04 CET. Technical issues or operational exigencies may require postponement or cancellation.
Alberto says that since undocking on 28 October, the mission team at ATV-CC have been pacing ATV-4 through a series of manoeuvres that more or less mimic the manoeuvres used for rendezvous and docking with the actual ISS, which the vessel accomplished back in June.
ATV Rendezvous & Docking Profile - when docking to a non-phantom station!
He says, however, that tomorrow's 'rendezvous' is with a "virtual point in space approximately 100 km beneath the real ISS" (hence our tongue-in-cheek title for this post!), from which ATV-4 will be commanded to perform its two de-orbit burns.
Most of the manoeuvring to get to this virtual point at the right time (around noon tomorrow) has already been done; there remains just a pair of burns to be done this evening and then two overnight to do some fine tuning. If all goes well Albert Einstein will be perfectly lined up for its 'phantom' rendezvous tomorrow AM for a spectacular farewell.
So, while we wait for ATV Albert Einstein’s reentry this Saturday, another film-based competition is in order:
Which ATV appears in the film Gravity? Was it ATV-1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?
Enter your answer in the comments of this blog post including a short description of what you think the frog (seen at the end of the film) symbolises?
Naming the correct ATV spacecraft and supplying the best/funniest answer to the second question will earn you an official ATV rucksack. We have goodies for two runners up, too!
Editor’s note: This competition is unofficial and not coordinated with the producers of Gravity. We do not endorse this nor any other film, but it’s pretty darn entertaining! See the science behind Gravity.
Stunning! ATV launch & separation seen by on-board camera
During the launch yesterday of ESA's ATV-4, a special passenger was on oboard Ariane 5: The Sterex experiment. The system features four cameras that can produce 3D stereo images showing the mission of Ariane - including the dramatic separation of the Ariane rocket boosters, the fairing being jettisoned and separation of the ATV and the upper stage.
Below is the first-ever video showing the entry of an ATV vessel into free-flight orbit – incredible!
(Scroll down for Q&A with DLR's Claus Lippert on the STEREX project)
The first video below is the reduced, annotated version
We emailed Dr Claus Lippert at DLR working on the STEREX project, and he kindly sent us these replies:
Q. Where are the cameras mounted on Ariane? A: All STEREX cameras are on the Ariane upper stage, the EPS (EPS: Etage à propergols stockables). One is on the outside, looking downwards. Two are looking at the ATV (in 3D mode) mounted beside the 'raising cylinder' – an adapter that supports the ATV payload – below the ATV, and one more looks at the fairing separation line (to provide video for engineering assessment).
Q. How is the recorded STEREX video data downloaded/downlinked to the ground during the flight?
A: Data are downloaded:
In real time to Kourou during the first minutes of the Ariane mission, and
During two passes over the DLR ground station in Weilheim/Germany
Q. Is the camera unit fully self-contained for power, etc.? A: Yes, it is completely autonomous.
Q: Do you see real-time TM from the camera unit during the flight? (Even if the video data itself only comes afterwards?) A: Yes, as long as we have contact from Kourou or other specially equipped ground stations. In the long run, we want to have real-time pictures (possibly even for the public!). This needs some more preparation, though.
Q: Does the camera continue recording during the de-orbit of the EPS? A: In principle, this could be done, but we would need to have a vessel-based receiving antenna located in the Pacific to get the data (until blackout only, of course). This time, that wasn’t done.
Dr Lippert is working together with DLR's Thomas Ruwwe who oversees the STEREX project; of course many more colleagues from across all the agencies are involved.
The making of ATV-4
Before Europe's advanced space transporter is ready for launch on its voyage to the International Space Station, the components that make up ATV Albert Einstein have traveled quite some kilometers over sea, land and air:
Down2Earth with ATV: Space tech right here at home
A great tweet from our colleague Lionel Ferra at EAC on the topic of how ATV is also one of ESA's excellent Down2Earth examples! Thanks, Lionel!
Join ESA astronaut André Kuipers for a fascinating, in-depth video tour of the ISS, taking us through every module plus some of the hidden nooks and crannies that we rarely get to see. And of course, the best bits – featuring ATV – start around 33:50. Enjoy!
Video replay: ISS crew opens Dragon’s hatch
The ISS Expedition 31 crew opened the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft today at 11.53 CEST (09:53 UT). Wearing protective masks and goggles, as is customary for the opening of a hatch to any newly arrived vehicle at the station, NASA astronaut Don Pettit entered the Dragon with Station Commander Oleg Kononenko.
Watch the replay:
Video tour inside ATV-3
ESA astronaut André Kuipers and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko open the hatch and start unloading ESA's supply ship Automated Transfer Vehicle 'Edoardo Amaldi' in this video produced by ESA TV. The Automated Transfer Vehicle docked with the International Space Station on 29 March 2012 delivering around two tonnes of dry cargo, 285 kg of water and more than three tonnes of propellants.
What’s up with ATV?
ATV-2 delivers: A cool video report spotlighting what's been happening with ATV Johannes Kepler since the hugely successful docking on 24 February. We're also planning a more detailed report later this week on flight operations and ISS reboosts conducted by ATV in the past 12 days.
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
28/10 - Undocking 9:55 CET
2/11 - Reentry 13:05 CET All future dates subject to change