"We're looking forward to a successful reentry. We have strong confidence that all will go nominally."
Mike's on console this AM and will be closely monitoring the two upcoming de-orbit burns and then consolidating the burn analysis to report back to the observation aircraft. I asked him a few questions on activities this AM and on how the flight control team feels as this spectacular mission approaches the end (click on 'Full story' below the image for more). -- Daniel
I asked Mike about the reports he'll make to the aircraft after the burns.
He said he'll get the details on the burn performance from the flight dynamics team here at ATV CC, including the actual delta-v (change in velocity), which will enable the aircraft to adjust their flight plan to match the updated, expected descent trajectory. He's using satphones to call; Iridium to call the DC-8 and Immarsat to call the Gulfstream. Both links have been tested and, aside from some interference that seemed dependent on the DC-8's aircraft/satellite location, these are working fine. As a backup, details can also be passed to the aircraft via radio.
Mike also says that, for the team, it's a bittersweet experience.
"We have mixed feelings - we're sad to see the mission end - ATV has been a good and reliable friend to us for six months. But we're alreday plannign for ATV2."
He says they have been very busy, and the entire ESA/CNES team has been deeply involved - the demands of the mission have also affected family life, so everyone is looking forward to a break.
In the coming months, the team will follow-up with a detailed lessons-learned report, as well as a complete mission analysis and a modification plan for the ground segment. "Despite having a perfect mission, we can always improve things for ATV2," he says.