First days after the arrival of ATV-4

Volare mission director Roland Luettgens on the arrival of ESA’s supply and support spaceship ATV-4:

ATV-4 approaching the International Space Station

ATV-4 approaching the International Space Station

Things sometimes do not go as planned. ATV-4 arrived on Saturday as expected. The opening of the supply ferry’s hatch was planned for Monday. Before opening the door of the spacecraft though many things need to be checked to ensure everything is set correctly. We still had a few things to work on and it was turning into a long day on Monday. We decided to postpone opening ATV-4’s hatch to today and we are looking forward to transferring and installing the cargo that came up with ATV-4.

Training on Earth with pump assembly mockup

Training on Earth with pump assembly mockup

The first thing is to transfer and install a spare Water Pump Assembly that weighs 90 kg on Earth. It was mounted in a special configuration in ATV Albert Einstein’s cargo bay because it is so heavy. The unit is even filled with water and it is the first time we have put such a heavy object on a spacecraft headed to the International Space Station. Once Luca has moved the pump assembly into the Columbus module and we have checked that it was not damaged during its flight, Luca will install it in a session that will last over two hours.

I remember Luca saying “Wow it’s a big beast, but no problem, I will get it in place” when we were training with the pump a few months ago to learn how to install it.  The Water Pump Assembly is part of Columbus’ Thermal Control system which cools all systems and payloads inside the module.  Of course, as with many other parts, we always have a spare in case one fails. At Col-CC we monitor and control systems to ensure redundancy day and night.

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