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[b]ATV-3 power connection restored, setting stage for station reboost[/b]
Multi-national flight controllers successfully connected a backup power channel on Saturday (March 31) to the European Space Agency's (ESA) "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ship, enabling electricity to flow from the International Space Station to the ATV. The operation set the stage for a reboost of the station on Saturday afternoon while avoiding an early undocking of the resupply craft.
The troubleshooting involved commanding from ESA's ATV Control Center in Toulouse, France to connect a backup power channel in the Russian Equipment Control System, or RECS, that is designed to route power to the ATV from the station, much like the SSPTS, or Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System, did for the shuttle when it was docked to the for station assembly missions. The primary channel of the RECS failed late Thursday (March 29) during air scrubbing of the interior of the ATV. The cause of that failure is under investigation.
Working together, flight controllers at Mission Control Houston, Toulouse and the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow reported that the backup RECS channel was connected to the proper power bus with all relays closed at 12:03 p.m., enabling electricity to reach the ATV.
The ATV can either receive power-producing electricity through the RECS or through its solar arrays. But the station will enter a timeframe on Monday in which the angle of the sun relative to the station would have made it impossible for proper power generation for the spacecraft's systems through its arrays alone. Had today's connection operation been unsuccessful, flight controllers would have begun work for an undocking of the ATV early next week.
To prepare for that possibility, ISS Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank and his five crewmates gave up their off-duty time on Saturday and began to unload critical cargo from the ATV at 5 a.m. CDT. Working efficiently off of a priority list, the crew moved bags of vital supplies of clothing, food, spare parts and other crew provisions from the European ship to the station and began loading trash back into the cargo vehicle.
After word was received that the power connection had been made and that the path had been cleared for the reboost, flight director Ginger Kerrick directed the crew to forego any further transfer of cargo for the day and for flight controllers to stand down from any additional work to protect for an undocking of the ATV next week.
The station reboost, which was scheduled to begin at 4:54 p.m. CDT, would only have been possible had the power connection been made from the RECS to the ATV. The reboost, which involves a four minute, 51 second firing of the ATV's primary thrusters, is designed to raise the perigee of the station's orbit by about two statute miles, setting up the proper phasing for the a Progress docking on April 22, the undocking and landing of Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank and flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin on April 27, and the launch of their replacements, Expedition 31/32 crew members Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin, on May 15.
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