Impressive dress-rehearsal for Jules Verne ATV

Apr 01, 2008
Impressive dress-rehearsal for Jules Verne ATV
This image captured from the ESA Docking Video System used by astronauts and mission controllers to monitor ATV's approach to the ISS during Demonstration Day 2, 31 March 2008. Credits: ESA

Jules Verne ATV today approached the International Space Station to within 11 m of the docking port on the Russian Zvezda module. The approach was part of a second ATV demonstration day which clears the way for the first rendezvous and docking attempt on 3 April.

“I’m known for my understatements, but the only word that comes to mind about today is impressive,” said John Ellwood, ESA’s ATV Project Manager. “It was impressive to see how Jules Verne, the staff at the ATV Control Centre, the control centres in Moscow and Houston pulled together today. It was a perfect dress-rehearsal for Thursday.”
Today’s manoeuvres included the first demonstration of the critical optical navigation system, using the European-developed Videometer technology. It was confirmed that ATV can use this system to autonomously navigate to within 11 m of the ISS.

“This demonstration day confirmes the performance of the vehicle is even better than we had hoped for,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Astrium ATV Project Manager. “This is a world premier for automated rendezvous using optical sensors, following the world’s first demonstration of relative GPS navigation between Jules Verne and the Station performed on Saturday.”

“Today was an important success for the Toulouse control centre to orchestrate a human-rated mission with the Station and it is a main step which is very promising for the docking attempt on Thursday,” added Lionel Baize, ATV-CC Project Manager for the French space agency, CNES. “It is an incredible challenge to have three control centres working together and to interact live with the ISS crew.”

Mission controllers at the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse, France, also confirmed they could issue very specific commands to Jules Verne, including Hold Retreat and Resume. These commands may have to be issued if any unforeseen problems occur in the ATV’s automatic guidance system.

Today’s demonstration also included the first active participation of the ISS crew in the mission. Once ATV had reached the 11-metre stand-off point, the astronauts were instructed to issue a Retreat command bringing Jules Verne back to the 19-metre point. The crew then issued an Escape command, which automatically took Jules Verne to a safe location away from the ISS.


The close approach to the ISS presented the ATV team with an opportunity to inspect some thermal blankets on the exterior of the spacecraft that had become degraded. “These were in exactly the positions that our thermal analysis had predicted. At the moment we do not envisage that this will have any impact on Thursday’s planned first docking attempt,” said John Ellwood, ESA’s ATV Project Manager. “We have addressed with our ISS partners the increase in power we might need to maintain the temperatures and we foresee no problems.”

Data collected during Demonstration Day 2 will be made available to ISS managers for their go-ahead to proceed with a first docking attempt on Thursday. Jules Verne ATV is scheduled to dock with ISS at 16:41 CEST (14:41 UT) on 3 April.

Source: ESA

Explore further: 'Flying saucer': NASA live-streamed Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test

Related Stories

Europe destroys last space truck to ISS

Feb 15, 2015

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Sunday said it had destroyed its last supply ship to the International Space Station, bringing a seven-year venture to a successful close.

ATV Jules Verne automated ship docks to the ISS

Apr 03, 2008

ATV Jules Verne, the European Space Agency’s first resupply and reboost vehicle, has successfully performed a fully automated docking with the International Space Station (ISS). This docking marks the beginning ...

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

Jul 27, 2014

Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station.

Mission accomplished for Europe's cargo freighter

Nov 02, 2013

Europe's heaviest-ever cargo carrier to the International Space Station burned up in Earth's atmosphere Saturday in a controlled manoeuvre after a five-month mission, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

European cargo freighter undocks from ISS

Oct 28, 2013

Europe's heaviest-ever cargo carrier to the International Space Station undocked on Monday after completing its mission, and will burn up in Earth's atmosphere on Saturday, the NASA space agency said.

Recommended for you

ESA's planetary defence test set for 2020

9 hours ago

If an asteroid were spotted headed towards Earth, what could humanity do about it? ESA's latest mission is part of a larger international effort to find out.

Brief moon eclipse coming April 4

15 hours ago

A brief total eclipse of the Moon may be visible on April 4 to skywatchers in western North America, Australia and East Asia, astronomers say.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.