LCAM operator in ATV-4

Kirsten MacDonell, ESA’s Cargo Integration Engineer who oversees cargo activities on ATV sent us this update from Kourou:

The ATV-4 team finished a dress rehearsal for the new Late Cargo Access Means (LCAM) in Kourou. The new LCAM will allow larger and heavier last-minute cargo to be loaded, 75 kg Triple Cargo Transfer Bags versus our previous capability of 25 kg Double Bags.

During the dress rehearsals the new LCAM is covered in blue sterile sheets in one of the photos since we want to keep ATV-4’s Integrated Cargo Carrier as free from microorganisms as possible whenever working inside: this includes both putting operators in bunny suits and disinfecting hardware.

LCAM under blue sheeting

The team had tested the system on mock-ups at APCO in Switzerland but this was the first time the system was mounted above ATV-4’s Cargo hold and used to enter inside.

To prove the system and ensure safety the team had to first demonstrate rescuing an operator and then rescuing an unconscious operator. In the second case an LCAM operator had to enter ATV’s cargo hold  to assist the rescue operation of a colleague who acted unconcious. Both operators where attached to winches.

The first manoeuvre took only 22 seconds, whereas the ‘rescue operation’ took 61 seconds… both very fast times that ensure safety if anything should occur.

Lowering the cargo bags