March 11, 2008

Jules Verne ATV Passes First Test On Its Way To ISS

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 maneuvers necessary to set up phasing with the International Space Station.

Flight control and engineering support teams analyzed 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 oxidizer 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 Center 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 maneuvers earlier this afternoon. The two maneuvers 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 maneuvers 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 Maneuver 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 maneuvers and the final rendezvous and docking.

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


VIDEO: Animation illustrating the mission scenario for Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). ATV launches from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The 20.7 tonne ATV is well protected at the top of Ariane 5 during a three-minute high-pressure aerodynamic ascent. 100 minutes after lift-off, the ATV becomes a fully automatic spaceship navigating towards the International Space Station (ISS). The ATV uses its eye-like rendezvous sensors to dock precisely and safely with the ISS. ATV becomes an extension of the Station. The 45 m³ pressurised module delivers up to 7.2 tonnes of equipment, fuel, food, water and air for the crew. ATV uses up to 4.7 tonnes of propellant to raise the ISS altitude which naturally decreases with the residual atmospheric drag. After 6 months, ATV, loaded with 6.5 tonnes of waste, separates from ISS and fully burns out during a guided and controlled re-entry high over the Pacific Ocean. Credits: ESA


Photo 1 Caption: The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is the first fully automatic re-supply spacecraft of its kind. ESA's Jules Verne ATV is the first European space supplier for the ISS. Its launch is scheduled on 9 March from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Credits: ESA - D.Ducros

Photo 2 Caption: Liftoff of the Ariane 5 ES-ATV launcher from the Ariane Launch Complex no.3 (ELA-3) at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport, in Kourou, French Guiana, on 9 March 2008. On board is Jules Verne ATV, ESA's first Automated Transfer Vehicle. Credits: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE - Activit© Photo Optique Video CSG


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