Today’s update from Charlotte Beskow, now working here at ATV-CC to monitor today’s docking.
Thursday, Feb 24, D -1 or ‘D0’… depending on how you look at it
Last day of phasing: The teams are busy preparing for the big day tomorrow. We have done several boosts which have brought us close to the ISS. In fact we are now at ca 850 km from ISS. This is roughly the distance between Amsterdam and Copenhagen…
ISS is only 350 km above us, which is less than the distance of Amsterdam to Bremen…..
It does one orbit in 90 minutes i.e. about 16 orbits per day. We will dock to the ISS when it is over the Russian Ground stations. MCC-Moscow is in charge of this phase and they rely on TM downlinked via these Russian stations.
Compared to the ATV-1 flight, this one is – up to now at least – nice and quiet. We have fewer alarms and thus fewer adrenalin surges! This allows us to concentrate on preparing the docking.
Preparation is done all over the Fermat building here at ATV-CC in Toulouse. If you watch the video transmission, the images you will see on docking day will only show you part of the picture.
You can follow the webcast docking on https://www.esa.int – or right here in the blog!
Luckily we have unlimited access to coffee and good food. An eating area has been installed in the basement. It contains 4 big fridges, which are periodically filled by local ‘traiteurs’. In addition to this, there is a steady supply of chocolate, cookies and other goodies to ensure that we are all happy. That is one of the many nice things about working in the space: everyone pulls together and does their best to overcome whatever practical obstacles pop up.
In the evening, when I came back to start the night shift I saw the equipment of the TV crews standing in the parking area. I hope Johannes will not suddenly decide to misbehave!
Docking day will be very busy. Docking is around 15:45 GMT, after which we will set up the connections for the attached phase.
This will take some hours – after that, we take a break overnight, and come back the next morning at 06:00-something in order to prepare the first test of the propulsion manoeuvres for the attached phase.
Once ATV is attached, it will be controlled from the Russian segment, and our thrusters will be treated as Russian thrusters. It is important to test this capability as soon as possible – in particular since the coming week will be very busy at the ISS. Shuttle will launch on 24 February as well, and will dock to the ISS on the 26th. More on that later in the week… one thing at a time. First we have to get Johannes safely hooked up.
24 February 04:24 : Ouff! Time for more tea and a sandwich… before the next set of manoeuvres start.
PS: You can follow “live” commentary on the blog https://blogs.esa.int/atv
The other day people in Houston had a fabulous view of ATV and ISS. Here in Toulouse we could not see it since the sky was cloudy. You can check viewing times for ISS via https://www.heavens-above.com
There are two passes on 24 Feb (in Europe) for Toulouse – these are:
from 18:43:21 SW to 18:49:08 ENE with max Altitude 63 deg
from 20:19:15 WNW to 20:22:00 N with max Altitude 24 def
The first pass is the best one!