The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is a partly automated cargo spacecraft. It is a major European contribution to the International Space Station (ISS), and the most complex vehicle ever developed by ESA. It is 3 times larger than a Russian Progress vessel and the second largest vehicle to reach the ISS, after the American shuttles. It is thus a major technological breakthrough for replenishing the ISS.
A dedicated Ariane 5 launched the first ATV spacecraft, called Jules Verne, on March 9, 2008. Its docking with the Russian Zvezda module on April 4, 2008 was a perfectly controlled technological feat. 7 months later, Jules Vernes was guided by the the ATV Control Center to a destructive re-entry into the atmosphere.
The ATV regularly ferries up to 8 tons of freight (fuel, water, scientific equipment and other supplies) to the ISS. The cargo remains docked to the ISS for several months while its cargo is unloaded, and its then filled with waste from the station, before heading towards a deliberate disintegration in the Earth's atmosphere during re-entry phase. While docked, it is used to restore the station's nominal attitude with its thrusters when necessary, for example to avoid a collision.
The ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) has been installed since 2002 at the Toulouse Space Centre. Managed by CNES on behalf of ESA, the ATV-CC conducts operations and coordinates all ground facilities during ATV flights, in coordination with the ISS control centres in Moscow and Houston, which are indispensable partners for the ATV project.
In particular, the ATV-CC draws up the mission plan and then prepares and validates control systems. It tracks every phase of ATV flights, including docking with the ISS, orbit stabilization and transfer manoeuvres, and at the end of the mission, releasing from the ISS, deorbiting and atmospheric re-entry.
After the success of the Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler and Edoardo Amaldi missions, the ATV-CC is now gearing up for the flight of ATV-4 called Albert Einstein scheduled to launch on spring 2013. ATV missions are scheduled once a year and they will gradually be relied on more and more to supply the ISS.
|ATV-CC (Control Centre)|
|Objective||Track and control ATV missions|
1st mission : Jules Verne on 9 March 2008, on Ariane 5 dedicated launcher
Last updated : March 2013.
The 3rd European resupply vehicle undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on 28 September, ending a 6-month stay during which it ferried food and fuel to the crew.
The 3rd European ISS resupply craft docked with the station as planned Thursday 29 March at 0:31 CET. It will remain berthed to the orbital outpost for up to 6 months.
The 3rd European ISS resupply craft is scheduled to dock with the station during the night of 28-29 March. The event will be broadcast live on this website and followed on Twitter by 50 ‘tweeters’ invited by CNES and ESA to the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse.