Latest report from Charlotte Beskow, today writing from ATV-CC in Toulouse, France – Ed.
“See you in two weeks!!!”
This was said by the ATV Engineering Support Team (EST – the experts from the ATV project office at ESTEC – Ed.) as they grabbed their bags and rushed out the door from ATV-CC today to catch the plane or train back to home.
We have just finished the final simulation in preparation for launch and flight. On Monday, 20 February, we did a nominal LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phase) simulation and today (23 February) we did a nominal rendezvous with the ISS & first part of docking.
It was one of the few simulations without a whole stack of contingencies thrown in and this allowed us to (at last) prepare ourselves in peace and quiet for what we hope will be a very boring nominal mission.
The simulation Monday caused a few hiccups. One which was due to the migration of part of the team to Windows 7. Keeping true to the Law of Unintended Consequences, after migration, one of the engineering support tools – a software application – suddenly no longer worked!
While not critical to launch or nominal operation of the ATV it impacted the ability to monitor certain parameters.
Although the problem was in our equipment and not in the tool, our colleagues here at ATV-CC from the French space agency, CNES, activated their grey cells with amazing speed and came up with an answer that worked. This allowed us to work properly today – thanks guys! So, all in all we are more or less ready for flight!!
What remains to be done is the manning for the various shifts… tricky for the EST due to the travelling, the labour laws and the operations which have a tendency to occur at inconvenient hours. C’est la vie!!!