Today's news from ATV-CC is good: Just after 13:00 CET today, Jules Verne nestled into a 'parking orbit', located some 2000 km ahead of the ISS and at approximately the same altitude, to await the first of a series of docking manoeuvres starting at the end of March. We spoke with ESA's Bob Chesson, the head of human spaceflight operations, by telephone shortly afterwards; he said: "This is where we need to be, and where we will stay until 27 March; everything's nominal." (More details after the jump...) -- Daniel
"Upon detection of a critical failure or an unsafe situation, the Monitoring and Safing Unit (MSU) isolates the ATV’s nominal system and commands a Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre (CAM). This brings the ATV on a safe trajectory within the monitoring corridor towards the ISS. Once the Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre is completed, the MSU points the vehicle towards the Sun, thus ensuring sufficient power from the solar panels during the ‘survival’ mode that the vehicle enters."
The news is in: This morning's CAM (Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre) demonstration went 'flawlessly', as described by John Ellwood, ESA's ATV project manager. Maria and I spoke with Alberto Novelli, ESA's Mission Director at ATV-CC, about an hour after the demonstration, and he was just delighted with the results. He explained there was some stress before the manoeuvre, but that everything went well and that the team continues to be really pleased with the spacecraft, which continues to perform even better than expected (more details including mp3 audio file after the jump). -- Daniel
Today's CAM (Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre) test went smoothly! At 14:30 CET today, a command to initiate the test was sent up to Jules Verne from the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France. The test included checking if the back-up functional chains - commanded by the Monitoring Safety Units (MSU 1 & 2; there are two of them) - worked, and they did. ESA's Mission Director Alberto Novelli called in at 17:30 CET this afternoon for a telephone report - listen to the mp3 audio under 'Full story'. -- Daniel
Friday is shaping up as a critical day for ATV Jules Verne and the mission controllers at ATV-CC in Toulouse. The day includes a live test of the CAM (Collision Avoidance Manoeuvre) system, and the spacecraft will actually be 'induced' into a non-nominal, 'survival' mode while it relies solely on the CAM system. Of course, it's still a long way from the ISS so there's no danger to any astronauts, but mission controllers will be watching very closely as the test runs its course. Here's an audio description of the CAM system and its functioning from ESA's Bob Chesson. -- Daniel
We've got a series of great mp3 audio clips from a telephone call with ESA's Bob Chesson with a detailed explanation on the propoulsion problem involving the PDE (Propulsion Drive Electronics) that caused excitement on Sunday evening, shortly after orbit injection. The problem's now solved, but Bob mentions what caused the issue to occur, the solution and the incredible teamwork (Astrium, ESA, CNES) behind devising and implementing the fix (click on 'Full story' to access mp3 links). -- Daniel
Today's update on the ESA portal says it all: "Jules Verne ATV successfully performed two boosts, bringing the spacecraft to an altitude of 303 km – half-way between the insertion orbit reached after last Sunday's launch and the orbit of the International Space Station."
In addition, we had some excellent updates earlier in the day on the progress of the burns and there's also news on the upcoming CAM test and (critical) CAM demonstration, scheduled for tomorrow and Friday, respectively. We also have an mp3 audio clip from Bob Chesson, ESA's manager of the Spacecraft Operations dept., speaking about today's activities. Click on 'Full story' for more up-to-the-minute details on ATV Jules Verne. -- Daniel
We're working on a short update from the mission control team for the end of the day on today's and yesterday's manoeuvres. So far the news is good and the team is very happy. Today's burns are scheduled for 13:14:23 GMT (14:14 CET) and 14:04:29 GMT (15:04 CET), both with a planned "delta V" (change in velocity) of approximately 6 m/sec. -- Daniel
"Against my expectations, it was clear this morning, allowing me the chance to observe the 04:21 UTC pass of the newly launched ATV-1 Jules Verne (08-008A), the first European cargo ship on its way to the ISS. It was launched last Saturday on Sunday night from Kourou by an Ariane 5 rocket. ATV stands for Automated Transfer Vehicle. I watched it coming out of earth shadow at about 50 degrees altitude in Ophiuchus around 04:21:10 UTC. It was nice and bright, reaching mag. 0.5."
Click on 'Full story' for links and pics... (thanks Marco!) -- Daniel