ATV-3 Mission Manager Massimo Cislaghi sent an update from ATV-CC yesterday evening: 

While writing this message I am following the final crew operations inside Edoardo Amaldi’s Pressurised Module from ATV-CC in Toulouse (mostly dismounting and retrieving items that should not be destroyed with the vehicle reentry). After which the two hatches of ATV and ISS were closed just a couple of minutes ago. As some of you may have read somewhere, the undocking is planned in a bit more than 24 hours (at about 0:35 CEST on Wed morning) and the deorbitation and consequent splash in the Southern Pacific again a bit more than 24 hours later.

Both events are planned (tough luck) overnight. This quite intensive stretch of operations once again requires some particular adaptation to the working rhythm of the 150-200 ESA, CNES, Astrium, TAS-I, RSC-E staff (my apologies if I am forgetting any organisation) located in this nice South-Western French town, which has been the focal point for the Edoardo Amaldi very successful (let me be not be modest for once) mission conducted over the last 6 months, since its launch 23 March and its docking 28 March to the Russian Segment of the ISS.

I wish to give you the final (really !) summary of the ATV-3 servicing tasks performed during this half year of attached operations:

  • all 2200 kg of dry cargo have been transferred to the ISS
  • nearly 900 kg of trash cargo and more than 400 kg of liquid waste have been loaded for destruction during reentry
  • one tank of air and two tanks of oxygen, for a total of 100 kg of gas, have been emptied into the ISS atmosphere, to replenish natural leaks as well as unavoidable losses linked to EVA operations
  • all the potable water that we carried, i.e. about 260 litres, has been transferred into the ISS (Russian Segment) tanks
  • we performed nine ISS reboosts (raising the mean ISS orbit altitude by about 26 km since the beginning of the mission) and several ISS attitude control manoeuvres, burning about 3400 kg of propellant
  • we transferred about 820 kg of Russian propellant into the FGB “Zarya” tanks
  • In total about 6.8 tonnes of cargo credited in favour of ESA in the frame of the ISS compensation scheme agreed among the Partners.

As regards the anomalies encountered during the first half of the Edoardo Amaldi in-orbit life, none of them has fortunately had any impact on the continuation of the mission, thanks to the robustness of the vehicle design on one hand, and to the skills of the operations and engineering teams on the other hand, further enhanced by the learning effect generated by the repetitive character of the ATV missions. In some cases, like for instance the RECS one, after analysis the anomaly has been classified as a “one-off”, with virtually no further action for the last two ATV’s…

…Last week has been quite a hectic one because of some worries related to the vehicle mass balancing, which shall comply with quite strict rules in order to allow the GNC of Edoardo Amaldi to control the departure and deorbitation of the 12-ton vehicle in a way that ensures the safest possible reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Fortunately in agreement with our Partners some modifications of the initially foreseen liquid waste loading plan allowed us to load the 66 kg of condensed urine (sorry …) inside the right tank so that eventually this last criterion was fulfilled as well.

I will not make a further update of these informal reports because I believe that you will get the main information about the very end of the Edoardo Amaldi mission through the usual ESA communication channels, first of which our blog, therefore I take this opportunity for expressing my warm appreciation to all of you for the attention, support and encouragement received during my duties as Edoardo Amaldi Mission Manager.

And last but not least, Albert Einstein is already in Kourou since some days … “le roi est mort, vive le roi” ! (*)



(*) italian version “morto il papa se ne fa un’altro” [English: The King is dead, long live the King!]