ATV Control Centre web documentary

Interactive book on ATV Control Centre

Our friends at France’s space agency CNES have published an excellent interactive book on ATV seen through the eyes of the ATV Control Centre. From the first signatures in 1995 to the last command sent, the web...

Shining light on ATV

Matt Quail asked us a question via Twitter to @esaoperations based on last week’s ATV fuel consumption article: @esaoperations do you need the yaw manoeuvres because the solar panels are fixed, and you need to be nose-to-Sun the whole time? — Matt Quail (@spudbean) January 22, 2015 Once again, ESA’s Laurent Arzel took a short time off calculating flight dynamics for ATV to offer some illumination on the matter:


ATV-4 re-entry animation

Many thanks to Vladimir Jankijevic, in Zurich, who sent in a neat animation made by stitching together the re-entry images we posted yesterday. Vladimir wrote: ESA’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, burnt up on 2 November at 12:04 GMT over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. This Animation is made from the photos from the ESA Flickr set.

ATV-4 reentry competition winners

After careful deliberation, we have chosen the winners for our re-entry competition: which ATV is seen in the film Gravity and what does the frog symbolise? Thanks to all for sending in your answers, we definitely enjoyed reading them and were quite overwhelmed by the response! We only have one special prize, however, so we have to be strict in deciding. Entries via ESA’s Friends of Facebook page were discounted, as the challenge clearly said to reply via the blog. At ESA, we have had many lunch-time conversations about the film Gravity and the general consensus is that ATV Johannes Kepler, also known as ATV-2, is the spacecraft seen in the film....

Empty ATV control room

For the first time since June nobody is ‘on console’ at the ATV Control Centre. An empty room can only mean the end of a mission. Congratulations ATV team!  

ATV-4 mission complete!

The Albert Einstein mission came to and end at 13:04 CET! I just spoke with Mission Director Kris Capelle, who says that the entire ESA/CNES team here at ATV-CC are sad that the mission’s over, happy to have overseen such a successful mission and looking forward to a pause in the pace before getting back to work on ATV-5. In the end, the video feed from the ISS was interesting but not as impressive as we had hoped. Astro Luca on board the station says that the crew had a ‘spectacular view’, so there’s a good chance we’ll get some imagery later (which we’ll post here!). For more details, read the full...

Expected loss of contact

Teams at ATV-CC forecast that loss of radio contact – loss of signal (LOS) – with ATV-4 will occur at about 13:05CET.

GO for reentry and last big boost

Mission director Mike Steinkopf sent this update from ATV-CC: We just finished our internal briefing: all ATV-4 systems are nominal and we are GO for reentry. A first deorbit boost DEO1 is planned at 08:35 GMT (09:35 CET) with a decreasing ATV-4’s speed by about 26 m/s for a duration of about 7 min. The second and last boost (DEO2) is planned for 11:28 (12:28 CET) and will decrease its speed by 88.4 m/s for about 23 min. This is the biggest-ever boost of all ATVs because of ATV-4’s special reentry flight plan that will be observed from the International Space Station. Albert Einstein will aim for an orbit that puts it -70...


Re-entry video feed from ATV-CC ~12:30 CET start

Live video feed from ATV-CC, Toulouse, for today’s re-entry (scroll down to see our periodic blog updates). NOTE: This is a technical feed only, and audio may not always be present. We expect to start around 12:30 CET and run for about 75 mins. Live video from the ISS showing ATV-4 re-entry, if available, will start around 12:55 CET. Main re-entry ‘streak’ expected at 13:04 CET. Technical issues or operational exigencies may require postponement or cancellation.


Rendezvous with a phantom space station

I just chatted with ESA’s ATV-4 Mission Manager Alberto Novelli and got an update on tomorrow’s re-entry – specifically the plans to watch Albert Einstein re-enter live from the ISS. The aim is to line up ATV-4 underneath the ISS to enable a bird’s eye view for the Station cameras, which should deliver the first-ever video* of an ATV re-entry seen from space. A cool video from our friends at CNES showing ATV undockign and re-entry: Désamarrage et rentrée atmosphérique de l’ATV-4 from CNES on Vimeo Alberto says that since undocking on 28 October, the mission team at ATV-CC have been pacing ATV-4 through a series of manoeuvres that more or less mimic...

ATV-4 mission report 31 Oct

This evening, the first set of the final ‘Transfer to ISS Vicinity’ manoeuvres (TV1-1, TV1-2) are set to take place at 19:20 and 20:03 CET, running for 3:50 and 4:01, respectively. Overnight, the second set (TV2-1, TV2-2) are planned for 02:56 and 03:54 CET, running for 00:40 and 00:55, respectively. These are the last burns prior to Saturday morning’s two big de-orbit burns, DEO1 & DEO2. Note as always: All dates/timings below are forecast only and are subject to change as this is a continuing, dynamic mission. Time below indicated in UTC.

One spacecraft and two aircraft!

An excellent shot of ATV-4 seen from above, shared via @lionelferra 1 spacecraft and 2 aircrafts! #ATV4 #exp37 — lionelferra (@lionelferra) October 31, 2013

ATV-4 boosts with accuracy

From ATV Control Centre, Jean-Michel Bois’ update on this morning’s activities: Two boosts this morning were performed with very high accuracy. At 07:42 and 08:30 UTC, decreasing ATV Albert Einstein’s speed by 1.7 m/s. The thrusters were ignited for 29 seconds, bringing Albert’s orbit down to around 360km – around 50 km below the International Space Station’s orbit. The next set of manoeuvres is planned tomorrow 01 November at 18:27 and 19:13 UTC.


Making sure ATV reentry is safe

We spoke a few days back with ESA space debris specialist Holger Krag, from the Agency’s Space Debris Office at ESOC, Germany, on how he helps ensure that the ATV controlled re-entry is safe and, well, controlled. Holger will be familiar to some of you: he joined DLR’s Manuel Metz on stage at the SocialSpace event in Cologne in September to present on the two agency’s space debris research and mitigation activities. In today’s audio interview, Holger mentions the SPOUA and Navareas 14 & 15; these can be seen in the Google Earth widget below. The SPOUA region is the big red square-ish area; essentially, ATV comes down inside this unpopulated region....


ATV reentry competition

Update: deadline is set for when ATV-4 reenters our atmosphere Saturday ~noon GMT. For people who cannot see Gravity yet: guess! (Hint: it is not the answer most people are giving.)  The film Gravity features a short role for our very own ATV spacecraft. This is not the first time ATV has ‘starred’ in a Hollywood movie; the spacecraft’s acting career was launched by Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Of course ATV has also featured in many other videos including documentaries, educational videos, music videos (more music videos…) and newsclips. So, while we wait for ATV Albert Einstein’s reentry this Saturday, another film-based competition is in order: Which ATV appears in the...

Excellent view of ATV-4 a few seconds after separation

An excellent view of ATV Albert Einstein seen just moments after it separated from the ISS during the undocking procedure, 28 October 2013. In the docking ring, you can clearly see an electrical connector, a fluidic connector, some of the hooks and a pusher – the mechanical thingy that actually gives ATV the first shove away from the Russian Service Module (click through for hi-res version in Flickr). Image credit: NASA

Update on first post-undocking manoeuvres

Update from ESA’s Mike Steinkopf, Mission Director at ATV-CC tonight, on this evening’s first set of manoeuvres following today’s rather smooth undocking. Mike describes the aim of this week’s orbital manoeuvres: to bring ATV on Saturday into a position below the ISS and in the field of view of ISS optical instruments (to allow for observation of ATV during its controlled atmospheric re-entry). The two planned TP manoeuvres were successfully performed this evening with less than 0.1% percent error. The two manoeuvres tonight were the ‘Transfer to Phasing’ orbit manoeuvres (i.e. matching ATV’s orbit with that of the ISS) TP1 and TP2, and these took place at 21:06 and 21:48 CET. Delta velocities...

No DAM tonight

ATV-CC reports: no need to perform a space debris avoidance manoeuvre (DAM) tonight, as the suspect debris object crossed the ATV-4 trajectory with sufficient margin. Update to ATV-4 potential debris warning.

ATV-4: Follow the ground track

The ATV-4 mission is complete! Check back again after launch of ATV-5, expected in Spring 2014. Sincere thanks to Chip and for this excellent little tracker.

Tonight’s first orbital manoeuvres

Tonight, mission controllers at ATV-CC will start conducting a series of burns to line up (phase) ATV-4’s orbit with that of the ISS for this year’s special re-entry profile. This is planned to enable the crew on board the ISS to view re-entry more or less directly below the station (see All good missions must come to an end). The first two manoeuvre burns are planned as follows (times UTC; now, CET = UTC + 1): TP1: 19:48:35 start – 19:52:25 end Total burn: 03:50 min:sec TP2: 20:31:40 start – 20:35:34 endTotal burn: 03:54 min:sec