I spoke yesterday with ESA's Kris Capelle, one of the four mission directors from the Agency here at ATV-CC. Kris will be 'on console' today as Mission Director for the docking - together with Hervé Côme - and he took some time to describe who's who on the various console positions.
Hervé will sit in ESA's Mission Director (MD)'s position on the early shift looking after rendezvous until Jules Verne reaches station-keeping point S3 (249 m from ISS), planned for 15:15 CEST. Then, he'll hand over to Kris, who will sit as MD for the rest of the day, including final approach, contact and capture, with contact due at 16:40 CEST and capture (closing of the hooks in the Russian module's docking port around the Jules Verne docking probe) due at 17:14 CEST. More details after the jump... (Note: there's been a slight change in planned times for today's RDV & docking - this post contains the correct times and we'll get a full update published shortly.) -- Daniel
Kris explained that the MD's job is - ideally - rather quiet. "If everything is nominal, we keep an eye on things. But if any problems crop up, that's when the MD gets involved. The MD has to react - and work with the team to assess the problem, determine what sort of contingency procedure is required and then coordinate the response with the international partners," said Kris.
The ESA MD also liasises with the flight dynamics and engineering support teams, which sit in separate, dedicated operations rooms located to the right and left, respectively, of the main control room.
The ESA MD works closely with the CNES (French space agency) mission control team - here's a brief run-down of several of the more critical console positions. (Note I've used 'he/him' throughout but that's just a limitation of the English language - many of the positions are filled by women.)
- Flight Director - The FD sits next to the ESA MD in the middle row and serves as the overall spacecraft operations chief. He keeps a close watch over the vehicle engineers and the other members of the team.
- Ground Manager - The GM sits next to the FD, and has overall responsibility for coordination of the ground segment and all the systems used to support the ATV-CC. He also is responsible for the communication networks used to communicate with ATV, which in turn make use of NASA's TDRS relay satellite system and ESA's own Artemis relay satellite.
- Vehicle engineers and controllers - These positions are in the last row, and include five positions for the VEs (each dedicated to a specific ATV subsystem), as well as console positions for the Vehicle Manager, Planning and Quality check.
- Operations Manager - The OM sits at the end of the middle row, and serves as a sort of general coordinator, watching the planned schedule and providing prompts and reminders to various team members when their next activity or response is due in the mission timeline, among other tasks.
The front row is notable for providing the console positions for ESA's international partners. At left sits the NASA representatives, at centre sits the ROSCOSMOS representatives, and there are also seats for translators, which are provided by ESA.
As mentioned earlier, there are also dedicated rooms at left and right of the main control room for specialists working in flight dynamics and engineering support. The FD folks perform, among many other tasks, orbit and positional determinations, while the engineering support room hosts a dozen engineers and programmers from the ATV prime contractor who keep a close eye on ATV's systems and who can provide ready advice in case of performance problems.
UPDATE - 13:20 CEST
ESA's Klaus Ludwig just droped by to add a couple comments. He described the specialists working in the Engineering Support Room (the Engineering Support Team - EST). These include ESA & contactor experts working in the areas of:
EST Team Leader
GNC (Guidance, Navigation & Safety), Safety