A short but very pleasant note came in this morning from ESA’s Jean Michel Bois, head of the ESA team here at ATV-CC, who was on shift as Mission Director in the main control room during last night’s launch and LEOP (launch and early orbit phase). He wrote:
The Sun’s up this morning and the LEOP phase of ATV-2 is over. What a fabulous night! ATV Johannes Kepler is now in the sky and ready for its first manoeuvres to chase after the ISS.
After the disappointment on the 15th when the Ariane countdown was stopped a few minutes before the lift-off, yesterday was a perfect Ariane 5 mission – ending with a very accurate injection into orbit. The level of pressure at ATV-CC was very high as our teams waited for ATV’s separation from the upper stage, ready to take control of the vehicle. When the first telemetry from ATV was received by our computers, we knew that launch – a major step – was a success.
Then, one after the other, we could watch the pre-planned events happening on our screens as ATV’s systems came to life! These included:
- Start-up of propulsion
- Acquisition of location data by the star trackers [on board cameras that tell ATV where it is by stellar navigation – Ed.]
- Beginning of navigation control
- First telecommands sent up to ATV – these being correctly received and understood by the vessel
- Nominal solar array deployment, so that ATV can now power itself
- A very quick convergence [fixing of location – Ed.] by the GPS receivers
After a complete check of the vehicle’s performance by the ATV-CC teams, ATV Johannes Kepler has been declared ready for its mission.
A new shift has taken over from the LEOP teams in the ATV-CC control rooms – our baby is now in their hands.