Earlier, we posted the forecast TLE orbital elements data for the free-flight phase of ATV Einstein’s journey to the ISS. Today, courtesy again of the flight dynamics experts at ATV-CC, we have an even nicer way to visualise the first few orbits of ATV: the Google Earth KML file (and for Ariane 5 – read below).

The 3D Google gadget plug-in shown below (which should work in most browsers – but maybe not all) uses the ATV-4 KML file and gives a great view of the first three orbits after separation from Ariane. The first orbit begins at the point of separation just before New Zealand and continues around Earth with two passes over W. Europe (the ones we told you about earlier).

Now let’s be clear: this orbital path is, as of today, projected for ATV-4. The actual flight path will only be known tomorrow after launch, and will depend on a wide variety of factors (we’ll update you with the confirmed orbital elements as soon as we can).


Now here’s something even cooler!

In addition to the projected ATV-4 trajectory, you can also download a Google Earth KML file for the Ariane 5 VA213 mission. Again, with the same caveat: this is only a forecast/simulation and the actual path will almost certainly be somewhat different (for the authoritative report tomorrow, follow Arianespace TV).

If you load both KML files into Google Earth, you’ll have a pretty good visual simulation of tomorrow’s trajectory from launch to the end of orbit No. 3!

You’ll need Google Earth installed on your computer.

Download KML files:


A5 VA213 KML

Thanks, Laurent, and ATV-CC flight dynamics, for a great visual treat!