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Forum:ESA - JAXA - China - International
Topic:ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) "Edoardo Amaldi"
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The Automated Transfer Vehicle, the most complex spacecraft ever produced in Europe, is now en route to deliver essential supplies to the orbital outpost. It will also reboost the space station's orbit while it is attached for about five months.

ATV Edoardo Amaldi is the third in a series of five supply ships developed in Europe to fulfill its obligation toward the exploitation costs of the station.

This vessel is the first to have been processed and launched within the target rate of one per year.

"Europe providing an annual service to the station becomes a reality due to the dedication, competence and interaction of our space industry, national agencies and ESA," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General.

"ATV-3 demonstrates Europe's capacity to deliver regular high-profile missions to support demanding crewed spaceflight operations, in coordination with our international partners."

ATV features high-precision navigation systems, highly redundant flight software and a fully autonomous self-monitoring and collision-avoidance system with its own independent power supplies, control and thrusters.

"We are proud that ESA is providing the most sophisticated vehicle servicing the space station," said Thomas Reiter, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

"Based on the capabilities and knowhow that ESA and European industry developed in the context of the ATV programme, we have now the opportunity to further evolve this technology. This will open up a wide range of opportunities for us to contribute to future ventures in space exploration."

The launcher with its 20-ton payload started its flight over the Atlantic towards the Azores and Europe.

An initial eight-minute burn of Ariane's upper stage took ATV-3 into a low orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees to the equator.

After a 42-minute coast, the upper stage reignited to circularise the orbit at an altitude of 162 miles (260 km). About 64 minutes into flight, the supply ship separated from the upper stage.

Twenty-five minutes later, ATV-3 started deploying its four solar wings, which was completed a few minutes later, marking the end of the launch phase.

Edoardo Amaldi is now making a series of maneuvers to rendezvous with the space station on March 28 at the projected time of 22:34 GMT (5:34 p.m. CDT) where it will dock under its own control with Russia's Zvezda module.

During the mission, the ferry is being monitored by the ATV Control Center (ATV-CC), in collaboration with space station control centers in Moscow and Houston. ATV-CC is located in Toulouse, France, on the premises of the French space agency, CNES.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
Dispatches to orbit: Writings by visionaries von Braun and Amaldi fly to space

Two early space leaders whose work helped lead to the International Space Station (ISS) were remembered on Friday (March 23) with the launch of their writings on board an unmanned supply craft bound for the orbiting laboratory.

German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, who was born 100 years ago to the day, and Edoardo Amaldi, an Italian physicist who was also memorialized with his name on the spacecraft, were each represented on board by copies of vintage dispatches that illustrated their respective visions for space exploration.

Robert PearlmanEuropean Space Agency (ESA) release
Europe's third cargo vehicle docks with the station

ESA's ATV Edoardo Amaldi has docked with the International Space Station's Russian Zvezda module.

The docking occurred smoothly when the ATV's docking probe was captured by Zvezda's docking cone at 00:31 CEST (22:31 GMT, 5:31 p.m. CDT) on March 28.

The docking probe was retracted, followed by the hooks between the two craft closing. The data and electrical connections then were established.

The 20-ton vessel, flying autonomously while being continuously monitored from the ground, docked with the 450-ton orbital complex with a precision of 6 centimeters as they circled Earth at more than 28,000 kilometers per hour.

"No one should consider that this smooth and gentle docking between these two giant spacecraft is either an easy or routine task," said Thomas Reiter, ESA's director of human spaceflight and operations.

"The technologies we have demonstrated in operational conditions with the ATVs have a tremendous potential for future human spaceflight and exploration missions."

The docking concluded a step by step approach to the orbital outpost by the large freighter. The vehicle maneuvered autonomously during these critical operations, monitored by a separate on board control system to ensure the safety of the station and its crew.

The ground teams at the ATV Control Center in Toulouse as well as ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers and his crewmates on the station were also watching the approach, in case a hold or an abort had to be ordered.

Like its predecessors, ATV-3 has a multifaceted mission. As a space tug, it is loaded with 3,150 kg. of propellant to reboost the station's orbit to compensate for the natural decay in altitude caused by atmospheric drag or to move it from the path of potentially hazardous space debris. ATV also provides attitude control when other spacecraft are approaching the station.

As a space tanker, it is delivering 860 kg. of propellant, 100 kg. of oxygen and air, and 280 kg. of drinking water, all to be pumped into the station's tanks.

As a space freighter, it carries 2,200 kg. of dry cargo such as scientific equipment, spare parts, food and clothes for the astronauts.

During the five months it will spend docked to the station, it will act as a temporary space module, providing 45 cubic meters of extra crew quarters on the orbital outpost. On previous missions, ATV was welcomed by the astronauts as "the quietest place in the station" and was often the preferred area for working.

At the end of its mission, scheduled for Aug. 27, ATV-3 will separate from the station, packed with waste bags. The following day, it will be directed to burn up safely in the atmosphere during reentry over the South Pacific Ocean.

Robert Pearlman
Power problem could cut short ATV stay at station

Expedition 30 flight engineer Andre Kuipers entered the "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) on Friday (March 30), kicking off several planned weeks of cargo unloading. ATV-3 is slated to remain docked to the station until early September, however a power issue threatens to curtail the spacecraft's stay.

Late Thursday, Russian atmosphere scrubbers were activated to ensure the removal of any contamination that may have occurred on the ground when the ATV's pressurized cargo compartment was opened for pre-launch packing adjustments. When the scrubbers were activated, ATV flight controllers in Toulouse, France, reported the failure of one of two redundant Russian Equipment Control System channels that provide station power to ATV-3.

The backup power channel passed an initial test on Friday, but it has not yet been connected to station power systems. If a Saturday morning test is successful, the backup power channel will be used for a planned reboost Saturday afternoon using the ATV's thrusters. If the backup channel does not function properly, the reboost will be cancelled.

European Space Agency (ESA) flight controllers told Mission Control Houston, that if power systems cannot be restored to normal configuration, the newly arrived cargo craft's solar arrays won't be able to generate enough electricity because of sun angles. While it is highly unlikely, the situation could lead to an earlier than planned undocking of ATV-3.

NASA, ESA and Russian space agency flight controllers are working together on contingency plans to try to extend power to the ATV. The multinational team is drafting a plan for the unloading of critical cargo if a worst-case scenario should lead to an expedited undocking.

Robert Pearlman
ATV-3 power connection restored, setting stage for station reboost

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.

Robert Pearlman
ATV-3 "Edoardo Amaldi" undocking postponed

The undocking of the European Space Agency's third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) from the aft port of the International Space Station's (ISS) Zvezda service module, originally planned for Tuesday (Sept. 25) at 5:36 p.m. CDT (2236 GMT), was called off due to an issue with a display and command panel inside Zvezda.

Expedition 33 flight engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide, who together closed the hatches to ATV-3 on Monday, were preparing to monitor its departure when the issue arose at about 5:30 p.m.

A new date for the undocking of the spacecraft will be determined after a review of data to identify the cause of the problem.

Robert Pearlman
ATV-3 "Edoardo Amaldi" departs station

After a three-day delay, the European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle 3 (ATV-3) undocked from the aft port of the International Space Station's Zvezda service module on Friday (Sept. 28) at 4:44 p.m. CDT (2144 GMT).

Tuesday's initial attempt at undocking the European cargo ship was called off due to a communications error between Zvezda's proximity communications equipment and computers on the ATV. Russian flight controllers resolved the problem, and station program management approved a second undocking attempt.

Expedition 33 flight engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide, who together closed up the hatches to ATV-3 Monday, monitored its automated departure from a control panel inside Zvezda. Meanwhile, Commander Suni Williams photographed the departing freighter to document the condition of its docking assembly.

ATV-3, now filled with trash and unneeded items, backed away to a safe distance from the orbiting complex after undocking. Once it reaches a distance of about 4,500 miles in front of the station, the European cargo craft will fire its engines twice on Tuesday (Oct. 2), to send it into the Earth's atmosphere for a planned destructive re-entry that evening.

As ATV-3 plunges back into the atmosphere, the Re-Entry Breakup Recorder that Hoshide installed in the vehicle will collect and transmit engineering data to enhance the efficiency of spacecraft designs and minimize the hazards to people and property on the ground even in the case of an uncontrolled re-entry for future cargo ships.

"Edoardo Amaldi," named for an Italian physicist regarded as one of the fathers of European spaceflight, delivered 7.2 tons of food, fuel and supplies to the orbiting complex after docking on March 28. The fourth ATV, named "Albert Einstein," is slated to launch in April 2013.

More than 32 feet long (9.75 meters) — about the size of a traditional London double-decker bus — the ATV is the largest and heaviest vehicle that provides cargo resupply for the station.

See here for discussion of the ATV-3 "Edoardo Amaldi" mission.

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