ATV Operations Support and Russian Interfaces Manager, Regina Mosenkis,  from Airbus, works closely with the Russian Control Centre during ATV missions. She sent us this update on preparations for ATV-5 undocking:

In front of the main screen observing the first-ever ATV rendezvous.

A historic picture in front of the main screen observing the first-ever ATV rendezvous, Jules Verne 3 April 2008.

With less than three weeks until ATV-5 undocks from the International Space Station, let’s take a look at the Russian TsUP (Mission Control Centre in Moscow/Korolev) that plays a crucial role in all ATV missions ever since the docking of the first ATV Jules Verne in April 2008.

The TsUP main control room has seen many dockings of the Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles and five very precise dockings of ATVs. It will soon take part in the final undocking of George Lemaitre


TsUP during ATV simulations, January 2014.

In January 2014 ESA and the Airbus simulation team under the lead of ESA’s Paul O’Shea visited the TsUP before starting the ATV-5 joint simulations campaign. These mission simulations play a vital role in ensuring that the Operations Teams are ready for each mission, and a successful simulation requires seamless coordination with the ATV simulators managed by Airbus DS and the International Space Station Service Module simulator at TsUP. From previous ATV missions we had a feeling that the simulator operators on both sides needed more in-depth understanding on how the other side was working. Our short visit was very intensive in terms of work, but also provided a chance for team building, including sharing homemade foie-gras brought from France in the TsUP offices! It was -20°C outside but the ambiance in the offices was super warm and the Russian colleagues received us with their usual openness and hospitality.

ESA's Moscow Support Room.

ESA’s Moscow Support Room.

Looking back at the ATV-5 simulations campaign that was finished with a last training for ATV undocking on Jan 16, 2015, we can say that the personal contacts and first-hand knowledge of the operators and training instructors on each side were key to our success. Needless to say that despite the outstandingly successful ATV-5 mission, the international teams are a bit sad about the approaching end of the ATV era. We all do hope to be able to work together again!