For the first time this evening, live telemetry – data signals – were received from ATV via the newly developed back-up proximity link system (see our earlier post announcing the test).
The signals were transmitted from ATV-2, which is mounted on top of Ariane 5 in the assembly building near the launch pad in Kourou, over the air to ESA’s 15m Kourou tracking station using the vessel’s proximity link radio. Kourou station (‘Diane station’) is part of the Agency’s ESTRACK network and, as the name implies, is also located at Kourou – just a few kilometres line-of-sight from ATV.
The signals were then sent from Kourou station to the ESTRACK Control Centre at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, and from there relayed over to ATV-CC in Toulouse.
ESA’s Fabio Sintoni, lead engineer working on the back-up proximity link system, just sent in these photos (thanks, Fabio!).
The successful test ensures that ATV’s proximity link can be used as a (third) back-up communication channel, with ATV transmitting directly from space to ESA tracking stations on Earth. ATV normally communicates via NASA’s TDRSS data relay satellite system or via ESA’s own Artemis data relay satellite.
The video shot by ESA’s Human Spaceflight editor Jari Makinen is now live in YouTube – and below (thanks, Jari!).