Artist's view of ESA's ATV Johannes Kepler Credits: ESA - Ducros, 2010

Artist's view of ESA's ATV Johannes Kepler Credits: ESA - Ducros, 2010

The next instalment of the launch diary from ESA’s Charlotte Beskow working on launch preparations in Kourou (today: “Busy doing leak test following cargo loading as well as final multi-layer insulator integration…”).

D – 10 : On top of a well-oiled machine
Kourou, 2 February 2011 – Wednesday

The days are simply not long enough… There are a lot of activities going on in parallel and it feels as if I am on top of a well-oiled machine that is chugging along at a determined pace in order to reach its target.

In development projects, discussions take time and very often the decision is to analyse, think, make a plan and come back. Since we are dispersed across Europe, this usually takes time and half the trouble is finding a slot in everyone’s overbooked agendas.

Here at CSG the situation is completely different. The plan is fixed several months in advance and then followed up, hour by hour by several persons and one single individual makes the formal updates. Everyone is here and getting ATV-2 ready is our joint top priority. When necessary things happen very fast!

Yesterday, this well-oiled machinery was demonstrated. We ran into a problem at 11:00. At 12:00 we had the elements to decide what to do. At 14:00, Astrium had worked out the recovery plan. Arianespace was informed about the schedule impact at once and came with an alternate solution minimising the delay. Astrium went away to take a closer look, informed Arianespace at 17:45 and at the daily meeting at 18:00, Arianespace gave us the updated planning – with time-sheets all marked up and everybody coordinated on their side. Impressive!

While we are busy here the Launch Control Centre staff are also burning the candle at all hours. I get mails dated **very** early in the morning as well as **very** late in the evening from dedicated people making sure coordination functions across the control centre and that final changes (if any are needed) are well managed.

Today the control centre teams are doing the last big full-scale simulation before ATV launch and before ATV docking to the ISS. All teams are present in Toulouse, Moscow and Houston and are busy doing the sim as I write this…

A pile of reviews/tests are coming up to make sure everyone is ready for launch:

  • Project readiness review tomorrow to prepare for next week
  • CSG internal rehearsal with ground stations on Friday
  • General dress rehearsal on Wednesday next week
  • ATV-2 Launch Readiness Review on Thursday next week
  • Launcher Readiness Review on Sunday, 13 February

And then… Countdown on the 15th!