Today is ‘Launch Monday’ – noted as ‘L-1’ in the mission planning documentation – and there are a number of crucial activities that will be taking place at Kourou, French Guiana, and at ATV-CC in Toulouse. Tomorrow: the 200th flight will loft by far the heaviest payload ever launched by Ariane 5 – more than 20 tonnes – into a circular orbit at an altitude of 260 kilometres, inclined at 51.6 degrees.
Today, teams across Arianespace, ESA and CNES will be hard at work getting ready for the start of the countdown clock (due Tuesday, 15 February at 11:43 CET – 11hr30min prior to launch).
(1) At Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou:
- Ariane 5 ES flight v200 with ATV Kepler on board – Roll-out from the vertical integration building (BAF) to Launch Area (ZL); both are located at the ELA3 launch site
- At the Launch Area, ground teams will establish data and power connections to Ariane and ATV, and begin filling the main cryogenic stage (called the EPC – Etage Principal Cryotechnique) with liquid Helium (more info here)
(2) And at ATV-CC Toulouse:
- ATV Johannes Kepler final flight dynamics calculations were completed yesterday (13 Feb) and will be stored on board today. The exact launch time (23:13:27 CET – Toulouse local time) according to the updated trajectory data from the ISS has been provided to Arianespace. (We’ve also updated the countdown clock in the blog 🙂 – Ed.)
- Additional data sets will be uploaded to ATV’s computers, including GPS files the final pre-flight Onboard Mission Plan (OMP) – the detailed commands that tell ATV what do to and when to do it.