Unique three-way partnership for ATV ground control

Feb 26, 2008

Shortly after its planned 8 March launch to the ISS, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle will make the first-ever laser-guided docking in space. The vehicle's fully automated docking provides unique challenges to the multi-agency mission operations team at ESA's ATV Control Centre.

"We started from scratch to build the technical interfaces, the ground control systems and the working relationships. The only way to make this work is through cooperation," says Alberto Novelli, Head of Mission Operations at the Automated Transfer Vehicle Control Centre (ATV CC) in Toulouse, France.

Novelli and his team from ESA's Operation directorate are responsible for overseeing the safe operation of Jules Verne, the first ATV to launch to the International Space Station (ISS), now scheduled for 8 March.

"This is a major project for ESA and our industrial partners - it will perform the first fully automated ISS docking and operations are a true trilateral effort, involving ESA, NASA and ROSCOSMOS, the Russian space agency. It's also a first in the ISS programme," said Novelli.

At ATV CC, the central hub of the three-way operations effort, ESA staff and contract engineers are working closely with engineers from CNES - the French space agency - who operate ATV on behalf of ESA.

The ESA team comprises 16 engineers, trainers, mission directors and support personnel working at Toulouse, joined by an additional six specialists who work on background development of ground segment infrastructure.

The team are also supported by resident NASA and ROSCOSMOS representatives, who sit on console with their ESA/CNES colleagues to ensure that the other control centres involved in ATV - NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston and Russia's centre in Moscow - are kept fully 'connected' to ATV operations.

The agencies have also set up an ATV Joint Operations Working Group, a three-way forum at the Flight Director level.

The ESA operations team was put in place at ATV CC starting in 2003, and - together with their colleagues from CNES - the team has spent the past year in a particularly gruelling series of simulations, training sessions and procedure validations, working up to full readiness for 8 March 2008, when ATV is scheduled to be launched on board an Ariane 5 from ESA's Spaceport in Kourou.

In just the past few months, the three control centres (ATV, Houston and Moscow) have completed a demanding series of joint simulations, including four rendezvous (two simulations went all the way to docking), one docking simulation, one undocking and two reboosts (in which the ATV's engine is used to boost the ISS).

Further joint simulations were held on 1 and 8 February.

Source: European Space Agency

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Living in space

May 27, 2013

Every day, 400 kilometres above our heads, there are astronauts living in space. Their home is the ISS, the frontier outpost of human exploration, and a workplace like nothing on Earth. With spacewalks and ...

Artemis keeps talking the talk

Jun 01, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Although ESA’s Artemis telecommunications satellite has officially completed its mission, it still has plenty to offer. Reaching its working orbit almost 11 years ago after an arduous journey, ...

Learn to dock ATV the astronaut way

Apr 11, 2012

Do you have what it takes to be an astronaut? ESA is making actual astronaut training available on your computer and tablet, so you can see for yourself.

Celebrating 10 years of Artemis

Jul 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA’s pioneering Artemis satellite today marks a decade in space. The Advanced Relay and Technology Mission was a breakthrough in telecommunications satellites for Europe, packed with ...

European freighter docks with space station

Feb 24, 2011

A robot freighter laden with seven tonnes of supplies docked flawlessly on Thursday with the International Space Station (ISS), its European controllers said here.

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

10 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

11 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

11 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...