Artist's impression of ATV mission cycle from launch to reentry

Artist's impression of ATV mission cycle from launch to reentry Credt: ESA/D. Ducros

Lots of great news on ATV today!

First, there’s a new article in the main ESA website today reporting that ATV is on track for 15 February launch – and that it will be the heaviest load ever lofted into space by the Ariane 5!

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.



We also received mail this week from one of the ATV managers giving very positive information on launch and docking.

ESA’s Jean-Michel Bois, Mission Director at ATV-CC in Toulouse and responsible for Kepler’s critical launch and early orbit phase (LEOP), wrote to report that a review meeting – the Operations Readiness Review (ORR) – was held this week, on 11 January, at ESA’s ESTEC Establishment in The Netherlands. This review covered ATV at the project and programmatic levels.

Jean-Michel said the objective was to check the readiness of the ATV cargo and of the ATV vehicle itself; the status of the remaining ATV ground segment and operations ‘open items’ were also assessed.

The ORR review came after an earlier (and equally successful) review meeting held on 7 December 2010 at ATV-CC in Toulouse with ESA and the ATV international partners. The purpose was to verify readiness of the ATV ground segment – the hardware and software on the ground used to control ATV in flight – and other aspects of operations.

Back to this week – he wrote:

“This [week’s] review concluded that all components of the ATV project are ready for flight, with the launch in Kourou by Ariane 5 still in planning for 15 February. The next step is the so-called Stage Operations Readiness Review (SORR) review with all ISS partners, in Houston, on 18 January.”

Great news!

We’ll keep you informed as we get additional information on the ATV launch campaign.