ESA’s Charlotte Beskow sends in this image diary of the meetings leading up to today: ATV-5 undocking:

Feb 12 Thursday

9 am meeting to discuss actions to take before Saturday morning ESTL in action (Thierry Chaudot and Christian Santini):
10 am mission briefing, same room.. more people:
Planners hard at work, integrating the activities into the tools so that the timelines on our consoles match what we are doing:

150212-21 blog_12am_planners13:00 Engineering Support Team briefing

The Engineering Support Teams arrives… at least partially. The entire flight control group and selected Guidance Navigation and Control Measurement System experts are on the same flight from Orly but there is fog, a strike, and to top it off their plane froze and had to be thawed out … they will be a bit late.

The meal order was forgotten but that was actually a good thing. There is time to eat properly in the canteen and the Sun is shining. Same room.. other people

At 19h00 we are still working.

ATV is a complicated vehicle and failing a complete power chain shortly before undocking has its consequences. We know from experience that the vehicle is safe. This means that it will put itself into the safe mode without the slightest hesitation if it considers the conditions warrant it. To do this it relies on tables with equipment status, failure counters, software modes, hardware modes and a myriad of other information. The expert teams are now crosschecking everything carefully to ensure that a false alarm does not throw us into survival mode.

Safe as it is with respect to the International Space Station, it complicates reentry…

At 21h30 the last Engineering Support Team manage to extract themselves from their tasks and join the team for dinner:

Feb 13 Friday
We do not dwell on the fact that it is Friday the 13th… in fact we have no time to do anything except execute a string of commands to place ATV in the proper undocking configuration, with all alarms authorised or inhibited depending on the subsystems. In parallel the astronauts are performing their final tasks inside ATV.

With all the useful items retrieved, the trash properly secured, the ATV and Space Station hatches can be closed.

When the hatch is closed at 16:34 local time we are able to watch it via the videolink from the International Space Station. There are lots of people in the control room and they are all taking pictures…..this is one of the big moments. Never again will anyone see the inside of an ATV…

The area between ATV and the Russian Service Module is then depressurised, A few more actions remain but it is time to go to the next meeting. The last one of the week…

19:00 Engineering Support Team briefing…
same room, same people…
Recapitulation of what has been done so far and what needs to be done between now and tomorrow midday… the list is shorter than yesterday, but still quite long. No worries. Everyone is motivated and we have the information either accessible here or via back office support. The team is extremely versatile and everyone contributes with his/her own particular skill set.

20:30 time to go home, tomorrow is another day
My colleague points out that tomorrow is Valentine’s day.. a bit ironical considering that we are separating ourselves permanently from ATV