Author Archives: Daniel

Daniel Scuka is Senior Editor for Spacecraft Operations at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
The Great Library of Alexandria, O. Von Corven, 19th century

ATV blog archive now available

We are really pleased today to share some great news: a downloadable archive of ESA’s ATV blog, spanning the ATV-2 to -5 missions, 2011-2015, is ready to go. This is Big News for everyone (like us!) who...

ATV Control Centre is switched off.

ATV-CC decommissioning: Going, going…

Formatting, disconnecting and – Hop! – dismantled! Decommissioning the ATV Control Centre, especially the Main Control Room, is a long task, with a bit of nostalgia. The operation will last two to three months. A team of...

Next up… Orion!

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…. Post by NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

Great view of ATV-5 smoke trail

And on board the ISS, astro Terry also grabbed an amazing photo of ATV-5 reentry! Final view #ATV5 Georges Lemaître entering Earth’s atmosphere. It was surprising to see how high the smoke trail was. — Terry...

Rentry from space: ATV-5 seen from ISS

ATV-5 seen from space just prior to its destruction: Thanks for a great photo from the ISS, Astro Sam! Good bye #ATV5! Arrivederci ATV5! — Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) February 15, 2015

ATV-5 and International Space Station over Saxony, Germany. Credits: Alex Spiller

ATV-5’s Big Dive

Animation of what’s happening this evening, as ATV-5 reenters, thanks to CNES. Désamarrage et rentrée atmosphérique de l’ATV-5 from CNES on Vimeo.

In this image, the ESA and CNES mission control teams are seen in the foreground, preparing for ATV-5 undocking. In the background, ESA's Engineering Support Team and industry experts can be seen. Out of view to the left: the CNES flight dynamics experts. ATV-5 undocking is set for 14:44 CET, 14 Feb 2015. Credit: ESA

ATV-CC voice loop: thanks to Houston & Moscow

Audio recording of the post-undocking voice loop conversation between ATV-CC Toulouse and the flight directors at Houston and Moscow. ATV-CC sends thanks and signs off after an extremely successful ATV programme.

Ralf Vandeberg via email: “I took this last Friday but in very turbulent windy conditions” Radar image

ATV-5 seen docked to Space Station

Very nice image acquired 13 February by Ralf Vandebergh, in The Netherlands. Ralf writes: I took this last Friday but in very turbulent windy conditions. It was impossible to obtain an image of the ISS that was...

Update 14:51CET

ESA’s Charlotte Beskow is working on console with the ATV-5 Engineering Support Team, and just sent this in. Half the team have dreadful colds (probably as a consequence of the cold weather last week plus the rather long working hours of the last few days). It is wonderful what aspirins, vitamin C and motivation can do… In fact, the only thing that would keep us at home right now would be a major calamity. ATV5 is quiet. Following yesterday’s exertions, George is remarkably well behaved. Perhaps he is a bit tired and resigned to his fate. If yesterday was a bit like Monty Python (think of the scene with the gallant knight...

Update 14:41 CET

ESA’s Charlotte Beskow, working on console with the ATV-5 Engineering Support Team, just sent this in. The final hours… What can be done, has been done. The day shift has been on console since this morning, and the night shift has reappeared in the control room to follow the final hours. Most people are carrying cameras, 100% conscious of the fact that today will never be repeated. Right now the word ‘never’ has a special ring to it. – CB

ATV-5 ground track over Western Europe, 15 February 2015 - on its final orbit before reentry; ATV moves from left to right (West to east); times annotated in GMT. CET = GMT+1

Spotting ATV-5 Sunday evening

First: A sincere thank you to everyone who spotted ATV-5 last night, Saturday, 14 Feb, and shared their pictures during the last, best, overflight above Western Europe, between about 18:10-18:16 GMT. We saw some wonderful photos via...

Artists impression of ATV-5 breakup and reentry. Credits: ESA-D. Ducros

What happens on Earth when ATV reenters?

This is a repost of our 2013 interview with Holger Krag, head of ESA’s Space Debris Office, at ESOC,  ESA’s Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany, during the ATV-3 reentry. His description of the planning and precautions for...

First ATV, Jules Verne, undocking in 2008 Credit: ESA/NASA

European cargo ship departs Station for the final time

The fifth and final European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocked from the Zvezda Service Module at the International Space Station on 14 February, to conduct 30 hours of free flight prior to its deorbiting on...

Green to go: ATV-5 in nominal orbit

Quick update from the mission director here at ATV-CC: After today’s successful, if a little sad, undocking, ATV Georges Lemaître is in nominal status, in free-flight orbit beneath and ahead of the ISS. The vessel is functioning as expected, and the team here will maintain it more or less as is until tomorrow’s reentry manoeuvres (we’ll update the blog timeline a bit later with details). Ground controllers will conduct a few minor in-flight procedures, including one Solar Array Drive Mechanism (SADM – What’s a SADM?) cleaning. Tomorrow’s reentry activities for the operations teams start at 12:29 CET, with impact expected around 19:12 CET. More details to follow.

Got questions? We have answers

A repost of our update on 14 January: We saw a question yesterday in Twitter from someone, and now we can’t find the tweet. 🙁 But we did note down the query: .@esaoperations why won't there be more ATVs? What will replace their capabilities? Thanks. Regardless of their source, they’re good questions! ATV-5 Mission Manager Massimo Cislaghi replies to the second point: There no 1:1 replacement to the ATV, but rather there will be a redistribution of its capabilities among the rest of the ISS servicing fleet, i.e. Dragon, Cygnus (when back in operation), HTV and – of course – Progress, this last vehicle being to my knowledge the only one capable...


#ESAHangout – ATV-5 Mission Director Kris Capelle

REPLAY: Watch our live #ESAHangout with ATV-5 mission director Kris Capelle, which ran ~11:52-12:00 CET today. Hosted by human spaceflight editor Julien Harrod (in the red #ATV4 ball cap!). Audio is fine; video low-resolution only due to...

Massimo Cislaghi Credit: ESA

There is no routine: Mission manager final report

ATV-5 mission manager Massimo Cislaghi sent this yesterday evening to the entire ATV team and agreed to share it with us here in the blog. Whoever might have dared say that ATVs were not perfectly designed has...

Orbital elements for ATV5 after undocking

For keen astronomers who wish to spot ATV in flight after undocking today: here is the TLE! 1 40103U 14044A   15045.60004630  .00000000  00000-0  12750-3 0  0006 2 40103 051.6471 336.2579 0014345 322.0611 311.8677 15.57261553 00004

Current ATV-5 Hatch configuration, 29 August 2014. Credit: ESA/NASA

ATV hatch closing – video

ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti working with Russian cosmonaut Sasha Samokutyaev to close the ATV-5 hatch on 13 February 2015. Credit: ESA/NASA As seen via NASA TV As monitored at ATV-CC Toulouse (no audio)