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ATV-5 is GO for undocking

Update just received from Jean-Michel Bois, head of the ESA operations team at ATV-CC. The ISS Mission Management Team (IMMT) has given the GO for ATV5 undocking. The decision comes after a final check was performed with the ISS authorities and our International Partners on 12 February. The IMMT, the ‘ISS management board’, verifies before arrival or departure of each visiting vehicle the readiness of all ISS partners (NASA, RSC-E, JAXA, CSA and ESA) and ISS teams (operations, crew, engineering team, &etc.) and ensures that all ISS and vehicle activities and safety matters have been reviewed and are compatible with the specific planned event. Yesterday, the ESA Operations team at AT-CC Toulouse presented...

Undocking/reentry timeline 13-15 Feb

Timeline is based on the latest info provided by ATV-CC Toulouse and will be updated in real time between now and Sunday. If any specific event should change by just a few minutes, we may not get a moment to update this and we’ll let you know via Twitter (you do follow @esaoperations in Twitter, don’t you?). All times GMT Friday 13 Feb By 16:00 ATV Flight dynamics team complete final undocking & reentry predictions 10:27 ATV-CC – Start configuring ATV for egress, undock & flight, without the failed PDC4 chain 12:45 Initialise on board GPS settings 15:10 – 18:00 Start of egress activities for crew. This includes:Remove surplus equipmentClose-out photos/video of...

ATV-5 ready for final tasks and undocking

Just in from ATV Control Centre, ATV-5 is ready for its final tasks and undocking on Saturday. All the air, water and fuel that it took with it from Earth has been transferred to the International Space Station. By weight the spaceraft is leaving with almost as much Station waste as it had in dry cargo when it arrived in August. The trash that Georges Lemaître will take with it has been loaded and balanced to keep its centre of mass known. Details below: General Status ·      All cargo loaded and balanced ·      Standard steep reentry on 15 February,  instead of shallow reentry ·      ATV-CC nominal....

Issue on ATV-5 power chain number 4

Jean-Michel Bois from the ATV Control Centre shares the operations perspective on yesterday’s decision to go for a normal ATV-5 reentry: On Tuesday 3 February, ATV’s onboard software detected an anomaly on power chain 4. According to its protocol, it isolated the full chain: the rechargeable battery 4, the equipment managing the power chain (called Power Control and Distribution Unit or PCDU) and all elements of the ATV subsystem connected to this power line. The ATV is designed to be robust to such a failure, one power chain isolation has no impact on ATV’s function, but obviously several subsystem redundancies were switched off (one of two videometers, one of two GPS transceivers,...

ATV’s not over ’til it’s over

Diary from a Space Project: ATV-5  10 Feb 2015 This report provided this afternoon by ESA’s Charlotte Beskow, at ATV-CC, reporting on the ESA and CNES team activities and giving details on the decision to perform a standard reentry on 15 February. The mission is drawing to a close… but it’s still not over !!! Working with ATV is a bit like being on a roller coaster… Friday, 6 February As mentioned last week, we simulated ATV undocking with (only) three out of four power chains functional. The simulation went well and the teams are now using the data from that exercise to prepare for Saturday’s (real) undocking. In parallel, the expert...

Checking twice

Last week, the last of the optical windows were installed and the DC-8 aircraft was taken to the tarmac for communication tests. Experts from NASA Ames and the SETI Institute called the ATV Control Centre, Toulouse, France, who then called back to confirm links worked both ways. In tests coordinated by ESA’s Laurent Arzel, it was confirmed that the aircraft can communicate over the INMARSAT and Iridium satelite networks by voice and internet. Details via the ATV5 Reentry Campaign website.

ATV-4 reentry in 2013. Credits: ESA/NASA

ATV-5 reentry observation campaign

The ATV vessels deliver, amongst many other valuable items, scientific equipment to the ISS. But that’s not their only value to orbital research. On 27 February, during the reentry of ATV-5, the cargo vessel will contribute a...

A complex vehicle: Update on ATV-5 power issue

This report sent in by Charlotte Beskow late this afternoon, detailing activities around the power issue that affected ATV earlier this week. Staying on the safe side Another interesting day in the office. The main objective of the day was to run a simulation  of the undocking sequence with one power chain failed, i.e. representative of the situation we have today. The simulation at ATV-CC in Toulouse started at 08:00 CET; after the  the usual difficulties with getting started (initialising the correct configuration, representative of the current vehicle status), activating consoles and environments in the backup control room (completely separate from the nominal one), the simulation proceeded smoothly. Both the Flight Control...

Murphy strikes: update on ATV-5 power problem

Update on the final activities to prepare ATV-5 for undocking and on the current issue affecting power, provided by Charlotte Beskow, from the ATV Programme team. During the ATV-5 attached phase we have enjoyed a long period of ‘normal work’. A nice change from previous flights that were all quite ‘animated’. Make no mistake, ATV-5 has been a busy mission in terms of operations. There have been plenty of cargo operations, the standard activities of refuelling the ISS, oxygen discharge, air discharge as well as the occasional propulsive support. And on the whole, the vehicle has performed very well, (even the cabin air circulation fan is still running despite, our bets on...

ATV – сделан в России (ATV: made in Russia)

Having exhausted the European contributions of our ‘ATV Made-in-‘ series on national contributions to the ATV project, now we look further abroad to our international partners. The International Space Station, as its name implies, is a collaboration between the USA, Russia, ESA, Canada and Japan, so parts of ATV (which is also part of the International Space Station programme) were supplied by Russia and USA. For no reason at all, let’s start with Russia.

How to pack an ATV – an astronaut’s perspec...

Last weekend ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti posted an update on her Google+ page dealing with the same news we covered on this blog: ATV-5’s deboost of the International Space Station and how to pack an ATV. Read her entry below to get an astronaut’s perspective of ATV happenings, and we recommend her other posts as well!

Weighing waste in weightlessness

Last week in response to this update on loading ATV-5 with trash we received another question through Twitter: @esaoperations @AstroSamantha do you need to “weigh” rubbish before putting it in the ATV? If so, how is it done on the #ISS ? Thank you — Gloria Graizzaro (@gloriagraizzaro) January 30, 2015 We forwarded this to Kirsten Macdonell, now Senior Columbus and Payload Operations Engineer: The answer is, although the mass of ATV, including its trash, must be known, nothing is weighed on orbit. Everything has already been weighed on the ground before launch. Therefore, when an item is trashed we already know its mass from before it was launched. For items like...

More details on the deboost

A few more details on the background and planning behind last week’s rare ISS deboost performed by ATV-5. This text was sent in by ESA’s  Eric van der Wal, based at Johnson Space Centre, Houston, Texas. On a regular basis, the ISS performs reboosts for achieving the correct orbital phase angles in order for Russian visiting vehicles to successfully rendezvous with the ISS. Reboosts are also sometimes preformed to counteract natural orbital decay. These orbital manoeuvres are planned months in advance and are continuously adjusted based on solar activity. As Solar Cycle #24 approaches a minimum over the next few years, both Russia and NASA agreed that continuing to do posigrade phasing...

Can this be squeezed in here? Loading ATV-5 with waste

Charlotte Beskow sends an update on one of the last steps for ATV-5… loading it with rubbish. The mission is going well and the past few weeks in December and January have been more or less “normal” work. I write “normal” in quotations because it depends entirely on the activity. The cargo people for example have had their hands more than full. The end of the ATV-5 mission is fast approaching and one of our tasks is to take out the garbage. One Earth garbage is usually collected at least once a week. In space things are not quite so simple. ATV-5 has been attached to the International Space Station since 12...

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:

ATV5: putting the brakes on the ISS

A concise update just in from Jean-Michel Bois, the ESA Mission Director at ATV-CC working on today’s ATV propulsive support. We have been asked to use ATV-5 to decrease – a little – the ISS altitude, by around 1 km. A lower orbit slightly increases the (already tiny) drag exerted by the wisps of atmosphere on the ISS and, therefore, also increases the decay of the ISS orbit. This allows the visiting vehicles (Progress, SpaceX, Cygnus, &etc.) to bring up to Station a heavier load. ATV-5 will be used this afternoon to ‘put on the brakes’, reducing the speed of the ISS so that it consequently will drop to new lower, but stable,...

ATV-5 undocking preparations in Russia

ATV Operations Support and Russian Interfaces Manager, Regina Mosenkis,  from Airbus, works closely with the Russian Control Centre during ATV missions. She sent us this update on preparations for ATV-5 undocking: With less than three weeks until ATV-5 undocks from the International Space Station, let’s take a look at the Russian TsUP (Mission Control Centre in Moscow/Korolev) that plays a crucial role in all ATV missions ever since the docking of the first ATV Jules Verne in April 2008. The TsUP main control room has seen many dockings of the Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles and five very precise dockings of ATVs. It will soon take part in the final undocking of...

ATV fuel consumption

A while back, a reader asked for fuel consumption figures for our favourite space freighter via the blog’s feedback form: “I would like to have some detailed info on the consumed fuel in kg during the rendezvous phase of ATV towards the International Space Station, split for attitude and orbit manoeuvres. In detail I am looking for data on fuel consumption evolution to maintain the ATV with the wished attitude possibly for each phase (Yaw Steering, Target Pointing).” A quick email to ESA’s Laurent Arzel working on the Flight Dynamics team at ATV Control Centre in Toulouse gives all the answers we could need. Laurent writes: “Between launch and docking, ATV burns...

Arms that never tire: Robots in space! 28 Jan

Join us for a hangout with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake & Rosetta Project Scientist Dr Matt Taylor as they discuss robotics in space missions. #RobotsInSpace Date: Wednesday 28 January 2015 || Time: 17:00 GMT 18:00 CET 11:00 Houston || Access via http://goo.gl/nfxg0g #RobotsInSpace Presented by ESA in cooperation with the UK Science and Innovation Network and the UK Space Agency.  

Something rare in the air

A quick update this morning from our ATV-5 Mission Manager, Massimo Cislaghi. On Friday evening, 17 January, the ISS crew noticed a bad smell inside the ATV cabin. The crew ‘closed the door’ (shut the ATV hatch, which normally remains open) as one would do at home, waiting for instructions from ground. It is virtually certain that the source of the odour is some trash cargo. Yesterday, it was decided that an inspection will be carried out today to try and identify the stinking cargo bag and eliminate the smell. The only (modest) effect on attached phase operations is that the water transfer planned for today has been postponed.

ATV-5 mission report #37

The folks at ATV Control Centre in Toulouse supplied another mission report on ATV Georges Lemaître, three weeks before its undocking. Unloading of water, fuel and air is either finished or almost. With engineering precision the update lists cargo unloading as only 98% finished. The remaining 2% refers to the reentry recorders that will document ATV-5’s demise on 27 February (more about this in future posts) During last weeks (false) alarm on the International Space Station, ATV Control Centre turned off ATV-5’s fans and Inter Module Ventilation, but they have returned to normal operations. Before that water was transferred to the Stationa in exchange for liquid waste. The numbers: Dry cargo :...

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Got questions? We have answers

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 of performing ISS reboost and refuelling. ESA’s Head...