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  ESA's ATV-1 "Jules Verne" cargo mission

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Author Topic:   ESA's ATV-1 "Jules Verne" cargo mission
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-11-2008 12:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA) release
Jules Verne ATV launch approaching

After the successful launch of ESA's Columbus laboratory aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on 7 February, it is now time to focus on the next imminent milestone for ESA: the launch of Jules Verne, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to be sent to the International Space Station. The 20-tonne European resupply and space-tug module will be carried into orbit by a special version of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. The launcher, operated by Arianespace, is now scheduled to lift off from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 8 March at 01:23 local time, 05:23 CET.

From 2008 onward, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle will be one of the space station's supply spacecraft, delivering experiments, equipment and spare parts, as well as food, air and water for its permanent crew.

Constructed by EADS-Astrium, the ATV, which is the most powerful automatic spaceship ever built, will carry up to 9 tonnes of cargo to the station as it orbits 400 km above the Earth.

Equipped with its own propulsion and navigation systems, the ATV is a multi-functional spacecraft, combining the fully automatic capabilities of an unmanned vehicle with the safety requirements of a crewed vehicle. Its mission in space will resemble that, on the ground, of a truck (the ATV) delivering goods and services to a research establishment (the space station).

A new-generation high-precision navigation system will guide the ATV on a rendezvous trajectory towards the station. In early April, Jules Verne will automatically dock with the station's Russian Service Module, following a number of specific operations and manoeuvres (on 'Demonstration Days') to show that the vehicle is performing as planned in nominal and contingency situations.

It will remain there as a pressurised and integral part of the station for up to six months until a controlled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere takes place, during which it will burn up and, in the process, dispose of 6.3 tonnes of waste material no longer needed on the station.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2008 12:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA) release
Jules Verne ATV launch rescheduled to 9 March

Arianespace and the European Space Agency confirm today that the launch of Jules Verne, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle, is delayed 24 hours due to a technical concern about the ATV/Ariane 5 launcher separation system.

During the last validation step for the device which separates the 20-tonne European spacecraft from its launcher, a potential problem was identified with the fitting of the grounding straps located in the separation system. Today, after removal of the Ariane 5 fairing, this item will be checked again, consistent as always with the conservative and precautionary approach taken by ESA to its missions.

In order to maintain safe margins for the countdown, ESA and Arianespace decided to postpone the launch by one day. The Jules Verne launch is rescheduled for 00:59 Kourou time, 03:59 UTC, 04:59 CET on Sunday 9 March 2008.

ESA's Jules Verne ATV will re-supply the International Space Station, delivering experiments, equipment and spare parts, as well as food, air and water for the permanent onboard crew.

[Launch time in the US: 10:59 p.m. EST, Saturday March 8, 2008.]

Jules Verne ATV is moved inside a special container (the CCU) to the Final Assembly Building (BAF) at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, where the spacecraft will be finally integrated with the launcher.

Robert Pearlman
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NASA release
NASA to Broadcast Maiden Launch of Europe's Station Cargo Ship

NASA Television coverage of the maiden launch of the European Space Agency's "Jules Verne" Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, to the International Space Station will begin Saturday, March 8, at 9:15 p.m. CST.

Liftoff of the ATV on an Ariane 5 rocket is set for 10:04 p.m. CST from the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. Television coverage originating from the launch site will be provided by ESA and Arianespace. The launch coverage will air live on NASA TV and will include supplementary coverage originating from NASA's Johnson Space Center.

The ATV launch window is instantaneous. NASA TV will continue its coverage until ATV's solar arrays are deployed, about one hour and 36 minutes after launch.

If the launch is postponed, another opportunity is available Sunday, March 9. NASA TV coverage would begin at 9:45 p.m. CDT.

The ATV reaches its preliminary orbit about nine minutes after liftoff. At that time, its engines will fire for eight minutes to place the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit. About 45 minutes later, a second engine firing will circularize the ATV's orbit prior to spacecraft separation.

The ATV is a 22-ton unpiloted resupply ship that will carry up to eight tons of cargo to the complex. The vehicle will have the capability to reboost the station's altitude through its four primary engines. Along with the Russian Progress cargo craft that periodically carry supplies to the station, the ATV also will transport equipment, experiments and fuel to the complex. The spacecraft will be controlled by engineers at the ESA ATV Control Center in Toulouse, France, working together with flight controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow, and at Johnson.

Once in orbit, the ATV will undergo four weeks of extensive systems tests, including two approaches to the station to simulate rendezvous and contingency techniques. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the automated flight activities for ATV when it is in close proximity to the station on March 31 and when it docks on April 3. A post-docking briefing from the Johnson also is planned for April 3.

The ATV will remain at the space station until early August. When it undocks, it will perform a deorbit maneuver to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Additional ATVs are planned for launch to the station in future years.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-06-2008 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA) release
Jules Verne ATV declared ready for launch

The successful Launch Readiness Review (LRR) for the inaugural launch of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle-V162 was today held at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

In the presence of John Ellwood, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Project Manager, with the participation of around 60 people from ESA, Arianespace, CNES, Astrium, RSC-Energia and NASA, the European space supply vessel for the International Space Station, was declared ready for launch on 9 March at 05:03 CET (04:03 UTC).

"We are very pleased to smoothly pass this milestone four days before launch as scheduled, now we really feel to be ready, and our Russian and NASA partners have expressed the same confidence," said Ellwood.

The ATV is considered the most sophisticated spacecraft developed in Europe and represents 11 years of development.

The Launch Readiness Review is organised by ESA to provide a final pre-launch assessment of the readiness status of the spacecraft and the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse. The review certifies that the spacecraft, integrated to the launcher, is ready to proceed into final countdown.

From NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Mike Suffredini, NASA International Space Station Programme Manager and seven of his staff, participated in the 3-hour meeting in Kourou by teleconference, as did a five-strong ATV-CC management team, from Toulouse.

The Russian ISS partners were represented by Nicolai Zelenschikov, First Vice President of RSC-Energia, who is in Kourou specially for the Jules Verne ATV launch. Rendezvous and docking of ATV with the ISS is scheduled for 3 April.

On the launcher side, the Ariane 5 Launch Readiness Review (or RAL, Revue d'Aptitude au Lancement) is scheduled for tomorrow, 6 March. This review certifies that the launcher meets all the Ariane 5 technical requirements and is ready for flight.

Roll-out of the 760-tonne launcher and Jules Verne ATV from the Final Assembly Building at Europe's Spaceport to the launch pad is scheduled for Friday 7 March.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-07-2008 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Ariane 5 ES-ATV launcher, on its mobile launch table, arrives at the Launch Zone (ZL-3) of Ariane Launch Complex no.3 (ELA-3) at the Guiana Space Center, for fueling and final launch preparation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From ESA's Jules Verne ATV blog:
John Ellwood, ESA's ATV Project Manager has confirmed the 10-hour launch countdown started exactly on time at 15:00 Kourou time (19:00 CET, [1:00 p.m. EST]) as scheduled. Everything is running smoothly. Dozens of specialists are already in front of their consoles in the three main control rooms at the Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did you know? ATV's Russian, American and Italian water

An example of one of the ATV's water tanks. Credit: Alenia Spazio

The ATV is capable of carrying two types of water to the International Space Station in compliance with the different standards set by NASA and Russia's Roscosmos:

  • The NASA standard requires its water to have low dry residue like that produced through a reverse electrolyse process, such as by the fuel cells on-board the space shuttle. It is disinfected with iodine.

  • Roscosmos' standard water has minerals such as calcium, magnesium and fluoride. It is disinfected with silver obtained via electrolysis.
"For Jules Verne, the ISS partners have decided to bring only the Russian type of water. We will have the water ready for delivery less than three months before launch" said Cesare Lobascio, head of Environmental Control and Life Support for Space Vehicles at Alenia Spazio in Turin. The same Italian space firm builds the ATV's pressurized Integrated Cargo Carrier in its Turin plant.

The Integrated Cargo Carrier has a maximum capacity for water of 1,852 lbs. (840 kg), divided between three water tanks, but on Jules Verne only one tank is filled.

"It is interesting to know that whether the ATV carries 'Russian' water, like for the Jules Verne mission, or 'American' water, in each case the water is in reality Italian water, since the water carried by the ATV is processed and delivered by the municipal water works of Turin, Italy (more precisely the Società Metropolitana Acque Torino SpA - SMAT)," wrote ESA spokesperson Dieter Isakeit. "So even if the astronauts on the ISS can drink no Italian wine, they can drink at least Italian water."

The Turin water that is meant to become Russian water for the ISS is taken from sources close to the center of Turin, where the mineral content of the water is similar to the water in Moscow, whereas "American" water would be taken from sources located much higher in the Alps, near the area of the Olympic Games, where the water contains less minerals, in compliance with NASA's water standards for the ISS.

The three water tanks installed on the Jules Verne ATV. Credit: ESA

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 04:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE:
Europe's 'Jules Verne' spacecraft carries namesake's notes on maiden voyage

Sometime during the last decade of the 19th century, French author and science fiction pioneer Jules Verne made handwritten note of the distances from Earth to several astronomical destinations, as well as the center of the planet. Verne, who by that time had already completed what would become his classics "De la Terre á la Lune" ("From the Earth to the Moon") and "Voyage au centre de la Terre" ("Journey to the Center of the Earth"), detailed the travel times for expeditions to the Moon, Sun and closest star whether going on foot, by train, or at the speed of light.

Verne, who passed away in 1905, never lived to see any of his imagined voyages come true, but thanks to a new spacecraft bearing his name, his original notes will travel longer and farther than some of the times and distances documented by them.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A good size comparison for the ATV, via NASA:

ATV can carry nearly three times the wet and dry cargo to the ISS as can the Russian Progress. This photo from ESA shows supplies stowed inside Jules Verne:

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-08-2008 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it just me, or does the image at the top of this thread look a bit like a certain cinematic iconic image (X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter)?

Concerning the size, wow I didn't know the ATV was that big. Any idea if ESA has considered any studies to stick a manned capsule on top of one of these things for crew transfer?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 09:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
Any idea if ESA has considered any studies to stick a manned capsule on top of one of these things for crew transfer?
ESA has conducted some studies, though they involve replacing the cargo carrier segment with a pressurized manned compartment rather than augmenting the current configuration with a crew. These concepts have also included extending the ATV's reach beyond low earth orbit.

For now however, there are just six unmanned ATV flights scheduled (including Jules Verne).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2008 10:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The European Space Agency's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), "Jules Verne", launched as scheduled from Kourou, French Guiana at 10:03 p.m. CST (0403 GMT).

Robert Pearlman
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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Europe launches its first re-supply ship -- Jules Verne ATV -- to the ISS

Jules Verne, the first of the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV), a new series of autonomous spaceships designed to re-supply and re-boost the International Space Station (ISS), was successfully launched into low Earth orbit by an Ariane 5 vehicle this morning.

During the coming weeks, it will manoeuvre in order to rendezvous and eventually dock with the ISS to deliver cargo, propellant, water and oxygen to the orbital outpost.

Lift-off occurred at 05:03 CET (01:03 local) from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This flight required a new version of Europe's workhorse launcher, the Ariane 5ES, specially adapted to the task of lofting the nearly 20-tonne vehicle - more than twice as heavy as the previous largest Ariane 5 payload - to a low circular orbit inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the Equator and equipped with an upper stage with re-ignition capabilities.

The unusual launch trajectory required the deployment of two new telemetry tracking stations, one on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean and one on the Azores Islands. The Ariane 5 upper stage performed an initial 8-minute burn over the Atlantic and entered a 45-minute coast phase, flying over Europe and Asia before reigniting for a 40-second circularisation burn over Australia. Separation of Jules Verne ATV occurred at 06:09 CET (02:09 local) and was monitored by a ground station located in New Zealand.

The most complex European spacecraft ever

Jules Verne ATV is now circling the Earth in the same orbital plane as the ISS but at an altitude of only 260 km, compared to 345 km for the Station. The vehicle is under constant monitoring by the dedicated ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France.

Located within the premises of the French Space Agency CNES, the ATV Control Centre will ensure flight control throughout the mission in coordination with the ISS mission control centres in Moscow and Houston. After having demonstrated safety manoeuvres in free flight, the ATV will perform orbital 'phasing' manoeuvres in order to rendezvous with the ISS for a first docking slot scheduled for 3 April after the departure of NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Named after the famous French 19th century visionary and author, the Jules Verne ATV is the largest and most sophisticated spacecraft ever developed in Europe, combining the functions of an autonomous free-flying platform, a manoeuvrable space vehicle and a space station module. About 10 m high with a diameter of 4.5 m, it weighed 19,357 kg at launch. It incorporates a 45-m3 pressurised module, derived from the Columbus pressure shell, and a Russian-built docking system, similar to those used on Soyuz manned ferries and on the Progress re-supply ship. About three times larger than its Russian counterpart, it can also deliver about three times more cargo.

The ATV is also the very first spacecraft in the world designed to conduct automated docking in full compliance with the very tight safety constraints imposed by human spaceflight operations. It features high accuracy navigation systems and a flight software far more complex than that used on Ariane 5.

Another ESA contribution to ISS co-ownership

Decided by ESA in 1995 in order to pay for its contribution to the operational costs of the ISS, the ATV has been under development since 1998 by an industrial team led by Astrium Space Transportation and comprising more than 30 contractors from 10 European countries.

On this first ATV mission, Jules Verne will deliver 4.6 tonnes of payload to the ISS, including 1 150 kg of dry cargo, 856 kg of propellant for the Russian Zvezda module, 270 kg of drinking water and 21 kg of oxygen. On future ATV missions, the payload capacity will be increased to 7.4 tonnes.

About half of the payload onboard Jules Verne ATV is re-boost propellant, which will be used by its own propulsion system for periodic manoeuvres to increase the altitude of the ISS in order to compensate its natural decay caused by atmospheric drag.

Upon leaving, after four months spent docked to the ISS, Jules Verne ATV will carry away waste from the Station. It will then be de-orbited over the Southern Pacific Ocean and burn up in the atmosphere in a fully controlled manner.

Only the beginning

Beyond Jules Verne, ESA has already contracted industry to produce four more ATVs to be flown through to 2015.

With both ESA's ATV and Russia's Progress, the ISS will be able to rely on two independent servicing systems to ensure its operations after the retirement of the US space shuttle in 2010. The Japanese HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) will also soon join the scene. This will be vital to ensure the system's overall robustness and reliability.

"Last month, with the docking of Columbus, Europe got its own flat in the ISS building, with the launch of the first ATV, we now have our own delivery truck" said Daniel Sacotte, ESA's Director for Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration. "We have become co-owners of the ISS, now we are about to become fully- fledged partners in running it. With the ATV we will be servicing the ISS by delivering cargo and providing orbital reboost."

"The launch of Jules Verne by Ariane 5 ES marks an important step on the way to ESA becoming an indispensable ISS partner with the ATV, the heaviest and most complex spacecraft ever built by ESA" said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General. "This is the result of close cooperation between Member States, European industry, Arianespace, CNES, ESA staff and international partners. But the next steps of Jules Verne's mission are as important when it comes to attaining the objective of automatic rendezvous and docking with the ISS, controlled from the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse. In meeting that objective, we will have made great strides in consolidating the role of ESA in the future international exploration of the solar system."

cspg
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posted 03-09-2008 12:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During the coming weeks, it will manoeuvre in order to rendezvous and eventually dock with the ISS to deliver cargo, propellant, water and oxygen to the orbital outpost.
Eventually?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-09-2008 12:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jules Verne will spend about a week catching up with the ISS and then "park" about 1,200 miles away to wait until after the space shuttle Endeavour comes and goes from its own STS-123 mission, before attempting its own autonomous docking.

Even then, before it docks, the ATV will conduct two test approaches to the station, including the initiation of "escape" maneuvers to back away from the complex and circle around. The escape test will verify critical software in the ATV's computers that would be used to avoid a collision with the station in the event the ATV's rendezvous system failed.

"ATV must pass these tests before it will be allowed to initiate the final rendezvous and docking. The tests have been designed to verify the systems vital to ensuring the safety of the ISS and its crew perform as expected," said Brian Smith, NASA's lead ATV flight director.

The ATV's final approach and docking with the station is scheduled for early April.

cspg
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posted 03-09-2008 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, thanks. I was puzzled at the wording because I didn't know to what extent the ATV's supplies were critical to station operations or not. I'm assuming that since this flight is some "proof of concept" mission, the supplies are not that critical (they will probably be useful though).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-09-2008 12:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The majority of Jules Verne's payload is propellant, 60% of which it will consume itself reaching the station and later as it deorbits. The remaining 40% will be used to reboost the ISS, an activity that can also be performed by the space shuttle and Progress vehicles.

The water and oxygen ATV carries, along with the food and clothes, will help prepare the ISS for expanding to a crew compliment of six, but are not critical to operations.

Also on-board are some spare parts for the Columbus laboratory.

Were Jules Verne not to dock and have to reenter with its cargo still inside, other than the disappointment it would represent to the European Space Agency, the greatest loss might be in fact the two 19th century manuscripts handwritten by Jules Verne, which are flying in honor of the ATV's namesake.

Fortunately, it shouldn't come to that, as ESA, NASA and Roscosmos are confident in the ATV's design and operation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-09-2008 01:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the European Space Agency:
The spacecraft on board computers detected a slight difference in pressure between the oxidizer and the fuel that compose the propellant. This caused the ATV to immediately switch over to the second of four propulsion chains, as it is designed to do.

Engineers at the Control Centre in Toulouse and at the prime contractor premises EADS-Astrium in Les Mureaux are evaluating and analysing the data coming from the spacecraft and are assessing the consequences, if any, in the immediate planning.
During a press conference, Alan Thirkettle, ESA's space station program manager, described the issue as a "small anomaly".
"When we started re-priming the [propulsion] system, we found on one of the chains we had slightly off-nominal behavior on one of the propulsion chains. And so immediately, as planned, the spacecraft switched itself on to the other chain, which was completely nominal. This is the way the electronics are set up and that is why we have got all this redundancy. So we actually had this switch over from one chain to the other, and obviously we're looking at that. It looked as though there was a difference of pressures between the two chains, the mon and the MMH, the oxidizer and the fuel. We're looking at why that should be on that chain and that's actually what we are looking at now."
The problem is said to involve one of Jules Verne's four propulsion drive electronic (PDE) chains, which controls seven of the ATV's 28 maneuvering thrusters.
"The electronic box that drives that has to be reconfigured, and we're now looking in the next few days how we are going to reconfigure that. We're actually going to do so some tests... to see how we do that because it goes into a configuration, there are so many configurations that it can go into that we haven't tested them all. But we'll be doing that over the next few days," said Thirkettle.

"So our idea is to reintegrate the electronics that switch from one channel to the other sometime in the next few days and at that time we should be able to see what is the problem with the first propulsion chain that we switched from."

John Elwood, ESA's ATV Mission Manager, added:
"We will be a bit cautious now because we are now on a redundant chain, so we don't want to go on to another redundant chain. So we're sitting and thinking about it. We're not in a rush to do maneuvers. It is not a danger per say, but whether we immediately go and do everything that we planned over the next few days -- we do have margin of course, as I was saying yesterday we have the 10 day margin before we need to start going into demo days at the end of the month -- so we're thinking now what we will do immediately. I suspect we are going to do our first boost maneuver today and we are discussing in Toulouse if we do it or delay it a bit. It doesn't really make a difference. My preference is to delay just to make sure we know what is going on."
They do not need to restore the chain as the primary propulsion system, but they would like to have it as a working back-up. Even should it not be restored, the ATV is qualified to proceed with its mission using only its three remaining thruster chains.

Kirsten
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posted 03-09-2008 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kirsten   Click Here to Email Kirsten     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You are a space geek if you drive from your home to ESTEC Noordwijk at 3 o'clock on a Sunday morning, to watch the launch of this live, on big screens.

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posted 03-12-2008 01:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA):
Jules Verne on track for long journey to ISS
11 March 2008

Following an overnight recovery operation, Jules Verne ATV's propulsion system has successfully been restored to full robustness. The spacecraft has since performed the first orbital manoeuvres necessary to set up phasing with the International Space Station.

Flight control and engineering support teams analysed the data coming from the Automated Transfer Vehicle's on board computers which, after activation of the propulsion system following Sunday's launch, had detected a significant difference in pressure between the oxidiser and the fuel that compose the propellant and had disabled part of the propulsion system. A course of action was implemented overnight to resume the nominal mission.

In a complex operation, commands to re-integrate an electronics box which drives that part of the propulsion system were up-linked to the spacecraft from within the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France. After the entire propulsion system was disabled, all four propulsion chains were progressively enabled, thereby restoring full failure tolerance.

Jules Verne ATV successfully performed a series of orbital manoeuvres earlier this afternoon. The two manoeuvres using the main engines, which occurred at 15:54 CET (14:54 UT) and 17:06 CET (16:06 UT), initiated the orbital phasing. Two additional orbit manoeuvres tomorrow afternoon will complete the phasing boost.

Mission controllers in Toulouse are now rescheduling activities to take Jules Verne ATV to its parking orbit in front of the ISS, including a demonstration of the spacecraft's Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre capability. Once in the parking orbit, Jules Verne ATV will wait for the completion of the STS-123 Shuttle mission at the Space Station, before proceeding with the rendezvous demonstration manoeuvres and the final rendezvous and docking.

Jules Verne ATV remains on schedule for docking with the ISS on 3 April.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-14-2008 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency release
Jules Verne demonstrates flawless Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre

Mission controllers received confirmation shortly after 10:45 CET (09:45 UT) this morning that Jules Verne ATV had successfully demonstrated the critical Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre. The crucial test began at 08:57 CET (07:57 UT), and included placing the spacecraft into a minimally functioning 'survival' mode.

The in-flight Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre, or CAM, demonstration was necessary to prove that the spacecraft could reliably move away from the ISS in case of any problems during the final rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station. Upon detection of a critical failure or an unsafe situation, the spacecraft's Monitoring and Safing Unit (MSU) is designed to isolate the ATV's nominal systems and issue a CAM command.

"It went perfectly - the MSU commanded ATV exactly as expected. After that, we had a perfect recovery of the spacecraft, from sun-pointing safe mode, and we reset the on-board computers. ATV is back in cruise mode," said Alberto Novelli, ESA's Mission Director at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France.

The complex procedure involved shutting down all of the normal control systems and placing the spacecraft into 'last-chance' survival mode. After the manoeuvre was positively demonstrated and confirmed, controllers implemented a lengthy 'exit-from-survival' recovery process that brought all systems back into nominal operation.

"The performance was absolutely flawless. We know now that it is completely safe for us to go to the Station because we always have an independent way to get away from it. This demonstrates that our back-up 'spacecraft within a spacecraft' works perfectly - it's good to have this tool in our back pocket," said John Ellwood, ESA's ATV Project Manager.

An enhanced team of some 60 mission controllers from ESA and French space agency CNES watched this morning's test intently from the ATV Control Centre. If any problems had occurred during survival mode, it would have been very difficult to recover the spacecraft.

"This independent mode relies on separate computers, separate software, separate batteries, separate trajectory monitoring sensors and separate thrusters. The only item shared with the ATV's main system is propellant," explained ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, senior advisor to the ATV project.

The test was conducted with ATV orbiting well away from the ISS, and included a 200-second thruster burn, which took place as the spacecraft passed over northern Africa. A final orbit determination will be done later today.

The CAM demonstration was also monitored closely by ESA's ISS partners, with NASA operations personnel seated on console in the ATV Control Centre. The US and Russian ISS control centres and ESA's Columbus Control Centre also monitored the test. One important result of the demonstration was to prove to the partners that the CAM functionality was reliable and could assure the safety of the Station and crew members. The CAM demonstration results are now being analysed by the ISS partners.

Additional demonstrations of Jules Verne's functionality are scheduled later in the month, with actual rendezvous and docking planned for 3 April 2008.

Robert Pearlman
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Jules Verne has been spotted from the International Space Station!

NavySpaceFan
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With JULES VERNE's docking date approaching, and with the passing of Sir Arthur Clarke, I was wondering if any word was out re: the name of ATV-2? My vote, if I had one, would be for ARTHUR C. CLARKE.

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NASA release
NASA Airs New Spacecraft's Maneuvers and Docking to Space Station

Less than three weeks after its maiden launch, the European Space Agency's Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, is set to begin a series of automated approaches and make an eventual docking with the International Space Station. NASA Television will broadcast the most critical maneuvers on March 31 and April 3, with commentary from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

During the docking, the spacecraft will be controlled by engineers at the ESA ATV Control Center in Toulouse, France, working with flight controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow, and at Johnson. On March 31, NASA TV coverage will begin at 9 a.m. CDT as the ATV begins an approach to the station from two miles away. A series of engine firings will bring the cargo ship to within 36 feet of the station before the Expedition 16 crew sends an abort command to move the ATV away from the complex for its final approach three days later. These maneuvers will test all of the ATV's vital systems, which are required for a safe automated linkup to the station.

On April 3, NASA TV coverage will begin at 7 a.m. as the cargo ship closes in for docking to the rear port of the station's Zvezda service module. Docking is scheduled for 9:40 a.m. A briefing with NASA Flight Director Brian Smith will air on NASA TV at 11:30 a.m.

Robert Pearlman
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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Jules Verne demonstrates key capabilities

Jules Verne ATV today demonstrated its ability to navigate safely from a point 39 km behind the ISS to a stand-off point just 3.5 km away using relative GPS navigation. The vessel then executed an Escape manoeuvre commanded from the ATV Control Centre in which the craft flew off to a safe distance.

"All systems were completely nominal, which is very satisfying for this first day of really testing the rendezvous capability of the spacecraft," said John Ellwood, ESA ATV Project Manager.

Today's demonstration also confirmed Jules Verne is able to establish a continuous two-way data link with the ISS. Using the high-rate S-band communication link, which was switched on at a distance of 40 km from the ISS, Jules Verne for the first time conducted relative GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) measurements with the Station. Relative GPS is a navigation technique executed by computers between the ATV's GPS receiver and the ISS GPS receiver that enables ATV to navigate relative to the Station with very high accuracy.

For both the flight control team in Toulouse and the ISS flight crew, this 64 kilobits/sec transmission rate also made it possible to test all the crucial data and communication connections between the two spacecraft, including some monitoring capability on both sides to send and receive communications.

When Jules Verne reached the closest holding position, at 3.5 km from the ISS, the bus-sized spaceship turned on its external tracking lights and activated the Russian-built Kurs rendezvous radar with equipment on both spacecraft. The robust and historical Kurs system, a concept which has been used for decades, provides relative distance and velocity with independent data for the crew monitoring during Jules Verne's final approach to the Station.

During the demonstration the astronauts on board ISS reported they were able to see Jules Verne with the naked eye. The spacecraft could also be seen via screens inside the ATV Control Centre. "For the flight control team the sight of the ATV thrusters firing was particularly exciting and brought the whole thing to life," said Bob Chesson, Head of ESA's human spaceflight operations. "It was fantastic to be reunited with Jules Verne and to see it performing so perfectly which is very promising for the days to come."

Data collected throughout the first demonstration day will now be analysed by the ESA JADOR (Jules Verne ATV Demonstration Objectives Report) team. A report will be submitted to the ISS Mission Management Team. After an assessment and authorisation on 30 March, ATV can proceed to Demonstration Day 2 on Monday (including an approach to within 11 m of the ISS).

"The first analysis from the JADOR are looking pretty good. We are going to spend some hours now analysing them further. We are quite confident," said Alberto Novelli, ESA's Mission Director at ATV-CC.

spaced out
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Just watched the ISS and ATV fly over Paris. Although nowhere near as bright as the ISS, the ATV was a bright as most stars and flying a very short distance ahead of the ISS (maybe a second or two). Quite an impressive sight.

Robert Pearlman
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The Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) approached the International Space Station today for its "Demo Day 2" practice maneuvers. It moved to within 36 feet of the Zvezda Service Module in a rehearsal for docking on Thursday.

The Jules Verne reached its closest point to the station at 11:38 a.m. CDT today, at which time it was commanded by the crew to retreat to a point 62 feet away.

It is now executing an automated "escape" command to depart the ISS for its three day phasing prior to final approach and docking around 9:41 a.m. on Thursday.

The following NASA TV captures were taken during today's demonstration approach:

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Robert Pearlman
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Robert Pearlman
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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Impressive dress-rehearsal for Jules Verne ATV

Jules Verne ATV today approached the International Space Station to within 11 m of the docking port on the Russian Zvezda module. The approach was part of a second ATV demonstration day which clears the way for the first rendezvous and docking attempt on 3 April.

"I'm known for my understatements, but the only word that comes to mind about today is impressive," said John Ellwood, ESA's ATV Project Manager. "It was impressive to see how Jules Verne, the staff at the ATV Control Centre, the control centres in Moscow and Houston pulled together today. It was a perfect dress-rehearsal for Thursday."

Today's manoeuvres included the first demonstration of the critical optical navigation system, using the European-developed Videometer technology. It was confirmed that ATV can use this system to autonomously navigate to within 11 m of the ISS.

"This demonstration day confirmes the performance of the vehicle is even better than we had hoped for," said Nicolas Chamussy, Astrium ATV Project Manager. "This is a world premier for automated rendezvous using optical sensors, following the world's first demonstration of relative GPS navigation between Jules Verne and the Station performed on Saturday."

"Today was an important success for the Toulouse control centre to orchestrate a human-rated mission with the Station and it is a main step which is very promising for the docking attempt on Thursday," added Lionel Baize, ATV-CC Project Manager for the French space agency, CNES. "It is an incredible challenge to have three control centres working together and to interact live with the ISS crew."

Mission controllers at the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France, also confirmed they could issue very specific commands to Jules Verne, including Hold Retreat and Resume. These commands may have to be issued if any unforeseen problems occur in the ATV's automatic guidance system.

Today's demonstration also included the first active participation of the ISS crew in the mission. Once ATV had reached the 11-metre stand-off point, the astronauts were instructed to issue a Retreat command bringing Jules Verne back to the 19-metre point. The crew then issued an Escape command, which automatically took Jules Verne to a safe location away from the ISS.

The close approach to the ISS presented the ATV team with an opportunity to inspect some thermal blankets on the exterior of the spacecraft that had become degraded. "These were in exactly the positions that our thermal analysis had predicted. At the moment we do not envisage that this will have any impact on Thursday's planned first docking attempt," said John Ellwood, ESA's ATV Project Manager. "We have addressed with our ISS partners the increase in power we might need to maintain the temperatures and we foresee no problems."

Data collected during Demonstration Day 2 will be made available to ISS managers for their go-ahead to proceed with a first docking attempt on Thursday. Jules Verne ATV is scheduled to dock with ISS at 16:41 CEST (14:41 UT) on 3 April.

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The Jules Verne, the European Space Agency's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), docked to the aft port of the International Space Station's Zvezda Service Module at 9:45 a.m. CDT on Thursday.

Though the docking was carried out under the ATV's own guidance systems, the station's crew could have at any time taken control of the approach. To prepare them for that task if necessary, the European Space Agency prepared and provided them with a "user's manual" for Jules Verne, as pictured above (captures via ESA TV).

The ISS crew is expected to open the Jules Verne's cargo hold early Friday morning.

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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Europe's automated ship docks to the ISS

ATV Jules Verne, the European Space Agency's first resupply and reboost vehicle, has successfully performed a fully automated docking with the International Space Station (ISS). This docking marks the beginning of Jules Verne's main servicing mission to deliver cargo, propellant, water, oxygen and propulsion capacity to the Station, as well as ESA's entry into the restricted club of the partners able to access the orbital facility by their own means.

The 19-ton unmanned spaceship manoeuvred from a holding position 39 km behind the 275-ton space outpost and conducted a 4-hour staged approach with several stops at reference points for checks. It autonomously computed its own position through relative GPS (comparison between data collected by GPS receivers both on the ATV and the ISS) and in close range it used videometers pointed at laser retroreflectors on the ISS to determine its distance and orientation relative to its target. Final approach was at a relative velocity of 7 cm/s and with an accuracy of less than 10 cm, while both the ATV and the ISS were orbiting at about 28000 km/h, some 340 km above the Eastern Mediterranean. ATV Jules Verne's docking probe was captured by the docking cone at the aft end of Russia's Zvezda module at 16:45 CEST (14:45 GMT). Docking was completed with hooks closing at 16:52 CEST (14:52 GMT).

First automated docking

This is the very first time in Europe that an automated docking is performed in due respect of the very tight safety constraints imposed by manned spaceflight operations. All the approach and docking phase was piloted by the ATV's onboard computers under close monitoring by the teams of ESA, CNES (the French Space agency) and Astrium (the prime contractor) at the ATV Control Centre at CNES Toulouse, France, as well as the ISS crew inside the Zvezda module. In case of anomaly, both ends could trigger pre-programmed manoeuvres to hold position, retreat to the previous reference point or escape to a safe distance.

The ATV's behaviour was also under surveillance from its own independent Monitoring & Safing Unit (MSU), which uses a separate set of sensors and computers to check that the approach manoeuvre is conducted safely. In case of major anomaly, the MSU would have been able to take over the commands and order a Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre (CAM) through dedicated avionics chains and thrusters.

As all operations went smoothly, none of these safety manoeuvres was required during this afternoon's approach and docking.

The ATV Jules Verne was launched by an Ariane 5 from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 9 March. Three days later, it successfully demonstrated its autonomous CAM capability and was cleared for ISS proximity operations. The spaceship then moved to a parking orbit for the duration of space shuttle Endeavour's visit to the ISS. On March 29 and 31 it conducted two rehearsals of today's docking, approaching at 11 m from the Station.

New delivery service

Now that it is docked, the ATV Jules Verne will become an additional module of the ISS for about four months. The astronauts will enter its pressurized cargo module and retrieve 1,150 kg of dry cargo, including food, clothes and equipment as well as two original manuscripts handwritten by Jules Verne and a XIXth century illustrated edition of his novel "From the Earth to the Moon". In addition, they will pump 856 kg of propellant, 270 kg of drinking water and 21 kg of oxygen into Zvezda's tanks.

The ATV can carry about three times as much payload as Russia's Progress freighters but on this mission, most of it is actually propellant to be used by the ATV's own propulsion system for periodical manoeuvres to increase the altitude of the ISS in order to compensate its natural decay caused by atmospheric drag. If required, the ATV will also be able to provide redundant attitude control to the ISS or even perform evasive manoeuvres to move the Station out of the way of potentially dangerous space debris. The first of ATV Jules Verne's reboost manoeuvres is currently scheduled on 21 April.

"The ATV is so much more than a simple delivery truck, it is an intelligent and versatile spaceship which has just demonstrated its extraordinary skills," said Daniel Sacotte, ESA's Director for Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration. "It is the largest and most complex spacecraft ever developed in Europe and the second in size of all the vehicle's visiting the Station, after NASA's space shuttle. With Columbus and the ATV, we have entered the major league of the ISS."

"The docking of the ATV is a new and spectacular step in the demonstration of European capabilities on the international scene of space exploration "said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General. "This fantastic step is in first instance the result of collective work in Europe, including ESA Member States, industry under Astrium as prime contractor, CNES and ESA staff as well as among ISS partners, in particular the USA and Russia. We shall now reap the benefits of such investments after the launch of ESA's Columbus laboratory, first in utilizing the unique capabilities of the ISS and secondly in preparing for the exploration of the Solar System. Now that the ATV is "up and running", I am happy to announce that in the next few weeks ESA will launch a recruitment campaign to hire new European astronauts".

Robert Pearlman
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On Monday, Expedition 17 crewmembers conducted a test of the Jules Verne's reboost engines to lift the orbit of the station to a higher altitude. Another test will be conducted on Thursday, setting the station in the proper configuration for the arrival of Discovery on the STS-124 mission in June.

From the On-Orbit Status report:

The single-burn reboost firing test of the ATV "Jules Verne" overnight at 12:10am-1:52am was conducted successfully. Burn duration was 4m 33s, with a delta-V of 1.04 m/s (3.41 ft/sec). Mean altitude gain was ~1.49 km. The purpose of the reboost was to test the ATV main engines prior to the scheduled reboost on 4/25 (Friday). ISS attitude control authority was handed over to the Russian MCS (Motion Control System) thrusters at ~12:00am and returned to US momentum management at ~2:47am.

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European Space Agency (ESA) release
ISS crew inspired by vision and dreams of Jules Verne

The Expedition 17 crew have recently been treated to some new reading material on board the International Space Station. Amongst the cargo to arrive at the Station with Jules Verne ATV last April was an original 19th century luxury edition of Jules Verne's book 'De la Terre á la Lune' and two of his handwritten manuscripts.

Video message

The crew recently retrieved the book and manuscripts from the Automated Transfer Vehicle's cargo hold. Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov recorded a video message to mark the occasion which was played following yesterday's ISS Heads of Agencies meeting in Paris, France.

The manuscripts, which are on loan from the Amiens Metropole Library, are part of a collection devoted to French author and science fiction pioneer Jules Verne, for which Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle is named.

In one of the handwritten documents dating from between 1890 and 1899, Jules Verne explores several distances in astronomy, indicating how long it would take to cover each distance by foot, by train and at the speed of light. The second manuscript, thought to date from 1876, is a celestial chart, showing the constellations Aquila, Orion, Pegasus and Virgo.

Reach to the stars

Addressing the ISS Heads of Agencies during a live audio link with the Space Station crew, NASA astronaut and Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Gregory Chamitoff reflected on how Jules Verne's stories have inspired generations of dreamers to reach to the stars.

"It is very much an honour and a privilege to be working on the Space Station at a time when a vehicle called Jules Verne is docked," said Chamitoff. "It has proven that the European partners have achieved a high level of technology and, along with Columbus, it gives Europeans a permanent foothold in space for long duration science and exploration."

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain thanked the ISS crew for taking time out from their duties to participate in the call. Reflecting on the Jules Verne theme of the event, Dordain added, "It was not only a link between Paris and the Space Station; it was also a link between the past and the future, and I would say also a link between dreams and reality."

Undocking

Dordain closed the event by announcing plans to undock Jules Verne ATV in the period between 5-22 September; with the destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere and the end of Jules Verne ATV's mission scheduled for 29 September 2008.

cspg
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In the May issue of a French science magazine (Science & Vie, May 2008, p14) it is written: "The ATV is the first spacecraft to achieve a fully automatic docking between a spaceship and a space station." I thought that Soyuz/Progress could actually dock automatically so I wrote to the magazine.

Their answer to appear in the August issue (translated from French via Google- and I've cleaned up the translation!):
In contrast to the Progress or the Russian Soyuz, the European ATV is the first vehicle capable of carrying out automatic dockings in full autonomy.

While Russian vessels have an automatic docking system, it requires the presence of humans in order to resume command in the event of an non nominal approach. Astronauts must be aboard at least one of two vessels, or, if this is not the case, it is necessary that the docking will take place over the control centre (usually two conditions are satisfied). This system of resumed manual control of the steering was very often used at the time of missions to Salyut and Mir, so much so that some officials on the ground began to suspect astronauts take command at the first opportunity to earn the "manual docking premium." [ie. you get paid if you manual dock!] This return to manual is not free from risk either, as evidenced by the collision with a Progress with Mir in 1997, which led to depressurization - and therefore off-putting service - the Spektr module.

The system developed for the ATV, for its part, was designed to directly meet the reliability and security imposed by NASA, using an ultraprecise navigation system, a triple redundant computers and by a fully independent chain of commands. This system is the only one to allow the ship to dock with the station without [human] intervention; it is the only one who can dock at a station in distress.

It can thus be used for orbital rendez-vous around other planets , excluding any human presence, for example missions sample return or automatic assembly of large structures.

Robert Pearlman
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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Jules Verne prepares for ISS departure

In just a few days time, the historical Jules Verne mission will draw to an end. After the ATV Control Centre commands the opening of the Automated Transfer Vehicle hooks, ESA's first resupply and reboost vehicle will perform a fully automated undocking with the International Space Station on 5 September at 23:30 CEST (21:30 UT).

The undocking of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will conclude the remarkably successful five-month attached phase of the mission, and mark the end of Jules Verne's main servicing mission to deliver cargo, propellant, water, oxygen and propulsion capacity to the Station. Since its perfect launch on 9 March, Jules Verne ATV has achieved each scheduled objective and much more.

Following a successful test of its anti-collision manoeuvre system, ATV demonstrated the high level performance of its precise rendezvous piloting, navigation and control. Then, after a superb final approach and docking on 3 April, the spacecraft completed all resupply tasks and even provided capabilities unplanned before its mission, such as a debris avoidance manoeuvre for the International Space Station (ISS), recovering large amounts of stored condensation water from the ISS in its empty tanks and offering a new comfortable sleeping area for Space Station crew members.

After automatically transferring its entire 811 kg of refuelling propellant to the Station in June and resupplying the orbital outpost with 269 litres of water and 21 kg of air, ATV activities during the last week of August were dedicated to transferring dozens of white cargo bags from the ATV's pressurized cabin to the ISS.

A lot of moving in and out

"Over the last 7 days, the ISS crew has spent 31 hours in their heavy schedule to carry, as planned, the remaining 900 kg (of the original 1150 kg) of dry cargo from the ATV to the Station," said Hervé Côme, ESA's ATV Mission Director at the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France.

The three ISS crew members, Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko, Greg Chamitoff have been 'flying' back and forth in microgravity through the ATV's open hatch, carrying food, clothes and equipment, as well as two original manuscripts handwritten by Jules Verne and a 19th century illustrated edition of his novel 'From the Earth to the Moon'.

The astronauts have also worked hard carrying items in the opposite direction, loading waste and excess equipment from the ISS into the racks and spaces left empty inside Jules Verne.

The total dry cargo waste loaded into ATV represents 900 kg of material no longer needed on the Station. On top of that, 264 kg of liquid waste has been transferred from the Station to the ATV in foldable plastic containers. This weight does not include the accommodation hardware, such as the racks and bags that store the dry cargo and liquid waste.

Russian ISS Commander Sergei Volkov, performed a special deck inspection of the ATV to check on possible condensation and to measure shell temperature of the ESA spaceship. Although there was no safety concern, this measure was implemented after the discovery early in the flight that several external layers of MLI (Multi-Layer Insulation) had shifted during launch, exposing the ATV's hull in several locations without thermal insulation. Using a 'Scopemeter' with a thermal probe, Volkov confirmed the temperature to be well within normal margins.

"Jules Verne ATV is a very crew-friendly spaceship as it puts a minimal training workload on the crew before the flight and, once docked to ISS, it became one of the best places for the crew to live", said Jean-François Clervoy, ATV senior advisor and a member of ESA's Astronaut Corps.

Four ISS reboosts

Regular ISS reboosts are needed to overcome the effects of residual atmospheric drag, which made the Station lose about 50 m in altitude per day during August. On 13 August, for the fourth time since arriving in April, ESA's Jules Verne ATV was used to raise the orbit of the 300-tonne Station to an altitude of around 355 km above the Earth's surface.

Several times ATV has also been able to provide an alternative means of attitude control (i.e. orientation control) to the ISS. On 27 August, for the first time, Jules Verne ATV was also used to perform a debris avoidance manoeuvre, steering the Station clear of potentially dangerous space debris.

Once its resupply mission is completed, the ATV, with its waste securely strapped and stored in the racks, will be manually closed by the crew on 4 September. A day later, Jules Verne ATV will be separated under control of the ATV-CC and Russian Mission Control Centre in Moscow (MCC-M).

A few weeks later, on 29 September, the ATV main engines will use their remaining fuel in two separate deorbit boosts to terminate the 3-week solo flight of Jules Verne. They will deorbit the 13.5-tonne spacecraft on a steep flight path, performing a controlled destructive re-entry high above a completely uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. The planning of this event in the night time will allow observation from two aircrafts containing a collection of NASA scientific experiments allowing ultraviolet, radar and spectrometric observations. In addition, the ISS crew might be able to observe ATV re-entry with the Russian ultraviolet and spectrometric instrument, called FIALKA.

Artist's impression of ATV destructive re-entry

Robert Pearlman
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From the ISS On-Orbit Status (09/04/08):
Tomorrow [9/5] the ATV cargo ship, with ~900 kg (2,000 lbs) of dry waste and 254 kg (560 pounds) of liquid waste, will undock from the ISS SM aft port. The crew will undergo a slight sleep cycle shift to accommodate the event, viz., wake-up at 3:30 a.m. EDT (instead of 2:00 a.m.) and sleeptime at 7:00 p.m. (instead of 5:30 p.m.). The ATV summary flight plan is as follows (times are Eastern):

3:10 p.m. - ISS mnvr to undocking attitude
5:27 p.m. - ISS Free Drift
5:27:36 p.m. - Sunrise
5:28 p.m. - Undock Command
5:31 p.m. - Phys.Sep/hooks open (spring delta-V≈0.08m/s)
5:32 p.m. - ATV departure mnvr (316 s, delta-V≈4.00 m/s)
5:55 p.m. - ISS mnvr to TEA attitude
6:24 p.m. - Sunset

Independent flight until deorbit on 9/29 (Monday):

6:14:39 a.m. - Deorbit Burn #1 (29.80 m/s)
9:12:27 a.m. - Deorbit Burn #2 (70.28 m/s)

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The Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) undocked from the International Space Station Friday at 4:29 p.m. CDT.

The ATV has been docked to the aft port of the Zvezda service module for five months. During that time the Expedition 17 crew members unloaded cargo and stowed trash and discarded items inside the ATV.

Video capture from Roscosmos' Mission Control

Jules Verne was the first European Space Agency cargo craft to visit the orbiting laboratory. The ATV will orbit the Earth for three more weeks before re-entering Earth's atmosphere to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

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ESA release
ESA's ATV successfully undocks from International Space Station

At the end of a flawless six-month mission, Jules Verne, Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle, undocked from the International Space Station today at 23:29 hours CEST. The ATV has now embarked on the last leg of its journey in space, which will end with a controlled destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere on 29 September.

The hatches between the ISS and the ATV were closed by the Station crew on 4 September following ATV preparation for automated undocking. Once all other pre-undocking tasks had been performed, the ATV hooks were opened, detaching Europe's unmanned logistics vehicle from the Station, with a spring mechanism pushing it slowly away. After drifting unpowered for one minute to a distance three metres away from the Station, the ATV deployed its smaller attitude control thrusters to start its departure boost and distance itself further. Within 22 minutes of undocking, the ATV was right below the ISS at a distance of about 5 km, at which point its automatic emergency systems (which can initiate a Station collision avoidance manoeuvre in the unlikely event of this being necessary) were disabled.

Having completed this 22 minute undocking and departure-boost operation, the ATV is now in its rephasing period, which will last just over 23 days. This covers carrying out manoeuvres to lower the ATV orbit, bringing it back on the same orbital flight path as the ISS but at a certain point below and behind. This time period for carrying out these manoeuvres is necessary in order to optimise fuel consumption, so that the ATV arrives at the correct point enabling its re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific to be viewable from the ISS, as well as from two specially-equipped observation aircraft to be deployed at monitoring locations in the region.

The ATV has had an exceptionally successful inaugural mission following its launch on 9 March: a perfectly executed in-orbit test phase prior to docking; delivery of the necessary logistics supplies to the Space Station; carrying out four ISS altitude-raising reboosts to counter residual atmospheric drag; additionally performing an ISS debris avoidance manoeuvre on 27 August after fragments of an old satellite came within the Station's vicinity; and currently loading up with a cargo of dispensable Station items and waste. The ATV has truly demonstrated all its key capabilities, and more.

"How the ATV has performed highlights extremely well how the benchmark of European space technology has been raised, and the wealth of expertise present in European industry", said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight. "This bodes well, not only for future ATV missions to the International Space Station, but also for developments of this kind of technology that may eventually provide Europe with an autonomous cargo return capability and independent access to space for European astronauts."

At the ATV Control Centre located at the French Space Agency CNES in Toulouse, it has been a busy past few days for the joint ESA/CNES team, testing communication links with the spaceship, updating ATV system parameters and defining the orbital profile the ATV will take on its journey back into the Earth's atmosphere. Prior to the undocking, the ATV-CC also had the responsibility of activating all the relevant ATV primary and backup systems and giving the undocking command.

"Even though our schedule has been very busy at the ATV Control Centre, I couldn't have wished for a better mission", said Herve Come, ESA's ATV Jules Verne Lead Mission Director. "All the systems have performed exceptionally well throughout the whole mission and continue to do so, which has allowed us to extend operations by a month. I should like to express my gratitude to all the ATV-CC staff and to everyone else involved in making this mission a success. And in just over three weeks, we will be looking forward to the ATV 2 mission in 2010".

Prior to the undocking, the ISS crew spent the last few days making the final preparations, including transferring from the ATV equipment needed on the Station, loading up the ATV with Station waste and also setting up and testing equipment for ISS/ATV communications for this operation. They will now be preparing for the forthcoming arrival at the ISS of the next logistics vehicle, Russia's Progress 30P spacecraft, on 12 September.

Robert Pearlman
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European Space Agency (ESA) release
Successful re-entry marks bright future for ATV

Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Jules Verne successfully completed its six-month ISS logistics mission today with its controlled destructive re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific.

Following a final deorbit burn at 14:58 CEST which slowed its velocity by 70 m/s, the ATV entered the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km at 15:31 CEST. It broke up at an altitude of 75 km with the remaining fragments falling into the Pacific some 12 minutes later.

The ATV has proved what a key ISS logistics vehicle it is. Following its 9 March launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, the ATV delivered 6 tonnes of cargo to the International Space Station, to which it remained docked for five months. This included ISS reboost and refuelling propellants, water, oxygen and 1.3 tonnes of dry cargo including food, clothing, spares and other items. During its mission, the ATV displayed the full range of its capabilities, including automatic rendezvous & docking, four ISS reboosts to a higher orbital altitude to offset atmospheric drag, ISS attitude control, performing a collision-avoidance manoeuvre when fragments of an old satellite came within the Station's vicinity, and on its final journey offloading 2.5 tonnes of waste.

"This mission is a fantastic accomplishment which caps a great year of human spaceflight for the European Space Agency", said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA's Director of Human Spaceflight. "Together with the Columbus laboratory, the ATV has really shown how far European capabilities have developed in building, launching and controlling space infrastructure. Europe has now taken a further step towards its capability of being able to transport and return cargo and astronauts to and from space and helping to define the global picture for human spaceflight from the ISS to future exploration activities."

Following its undocking on 5 September, the ATV had spent 23 days carrying out "rephasing" manoeuvres to bring it to the correct position behind and underneath the ISS. This predefined position allowed the re-entry to be viewed and recorded from the Station itself, as well as from two specially-equipped observation planes located in the vicinity of the ATV's flight path in the skies above the South Pacific. This observation campaign will serve to determine whether the vehicle's break-up matched the computer modelling.

"Credit has to go to everyone involved in such a flawless mission." said John Ellwood, ESA's ATV Project Manager. "Not only to the ESA and industrial teams that brought the project to fruition, but also to the teams at the ATV Control Centre and around the world who have done a superb job while the spacecraft has been in orbit. This is truly a wonderful spacecraft, and vital to the continued service of the ISS following Shuttle retirement in 2010. I look forward to the launch of the next ATV, which is currently under production at EADS Astrium in Bremen, Germany."

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