Tag Archives: ATV

Europe’s last ATV leaves ISS

Europe’s last ATV cargo freighter for ISS left the station and burned up over the Pacific Ocean this past weekend.

Because of a technical problem on the ATV, a camera designed to record what happened inside the freighter as it burned up during re-entry was removed prior to undocking so that it could be used instead during a later re-entry.

Meanwhile, instead of supplying ISS with cargo, Europe has decided to meet its contribution to ISS by building the service module for NASA’s Orion/SLS program, which has no plans to ever go to ISS. Note, however, that Europe has also not committed to building more than two service modules, so how Orion/SLS will go beyond Earth orbit after these two modules have been launched remains a mystery.

If you are scratching your head at all this, you are not alone. To me, this one decision alone illustrates quite neatly the utter stupidity of big government-run programs.

Last ATV launched to ISS

Arianespace today successfully launched the last European cargo ship to ISS.

After doing some flight tests in orbit and in conjunction with ISS, the docking will occur on August 12.

After this flight the Russian Progress freighter will be the only spacecraft with engines capable of changing the station’s orbit. It will also be the only spacecraft capable of refueling the engines on ISS’s Russian modules.

Russian concerns about a build-up of mold inside the European ATV, now docked to ISS, has caused a delay in the opening of its hatch.

Russian concerns about a build-up of mold inside the European ATV, now docked to ISS, has caused a delay in the opening of its hatch.

The Spaceflight101 portal said the delay was due to possible “mold and bacteria contamination on three cargo bags that are inside the spacecraft” and that a decision is yet to be made on whether the crew should use anti-mold kits to clean ATV-4 cargo before taking it inside the ISS.

The Russians had a lot of problems with mold in their early Salyut space stations, and understand the unpleasant consequences should mold spread into the station. Thus, I am not surprised if they are taking this issue seriously.

The European Space Agency is investigating the possibility that the Progress docking to ISS on April 26 might have damaged equipment needed by their ATV cargo ship.

The European Space Agency is investigating the possibility that the Progress docking to ISS on April 26 might have damaged equipment needed by their ATV cargo ship.

The damage, caused by the undeployed Progress antenna, appears to have involved a navigational aid needed for ATV-4 … the Laser Radar Reflector (LRR) target. The LRR is needed for the automatic docking of the European ATV during the last part of the rendezvous operations. If the damage is confirmed, the device, recently replaced during an EVA by the Russian crew due to contamination of the optical section, will need to be replaced again. In this event, the European cargo ship could potentially be delayed for several months. ATV-4, named Albert Einstein, has been already delayed from April to June because of a glitch in an avionics box.

A service module to nowhere

As a replacement for its discontinued ATV cargo freighter — which paid its share of ISS — Europe has decided to build a service module for the Orion capsule.

This decision occurred at the same time ESA decided to upgrade Ariane 5 rather than replace it. Both decisions, to my mind, were serious mistakes.
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A routine engine firing to raise the orbit of the International Space Station failed to come off today.

A routine engine firing to raise the orbit of the International Space Station failed to come off today.

Though it appears the engines on the European ATV cargo craft did not fire as scheduled, the report is very vague and does not make clear what actually happened. Stay tuned.

A European Space Agency (ESA) working group has recommended the agency focus its next manned space project on redesigning its now abandoned ATV cargo ship as a service module for the U.S.’s Orion capsule.

Birds of a feather: A European Space Agency (ESA) working group has recommended the agency focus its next manned space project on redesigning its now abandoned ATV cargo ship as a service module for the U.S.’s Orion capsule.

Believe it or not, this is how ESA plans to pay for its use of ISS from 2017 to 2020, by abandoning the ATV (which supplies ISS) and building a service module for a capsule that might never launch and is not intended to go to ISS anyway.

But then, it isn’t surprising, coming from a government agency.

Europe has shut down the production line producing their ATV cargo craft for ISS.

Is this good or bad news? Europe has shut down the production line producing their ATV cargo craft for ISS.

Confronted by parts obsolescence and waning political support, the European Space Agency has shut down subsystem production lines for the Automated Transfer Vehicle as member states debate how they will contribute to future international space exploration efforts, according to top spaceflight officials.

ESA has launched three of the five ATVs it agreed to launch, with the remaining two scheduled in 2013 and 2014. What happens after that remains unclear. It seems from the article the European partners don’t seem interested in upgrading the ATV, and instead seem willing to let the as-yet untried U.S. commercial companies carry the load.

Commercial flights by U.S. spacecraft will make up the rest of the lost capacity with the end of the ATV program.

The pressure continues to build on a successful Falcon 9/Dragon flight on April 30.

Europe successfully launched its third unmanned freighter to ISS early this morning.

Europe successfully launched its third unmanned freighter to ISS early this morning.

The 13-ton cargo freighter is loaded with about 7.2 tons of supplies, including food, water, clothing, experiments and fuel for the space station, according to NASA. The unmanned ATV-3 is the heaviest load of cargo ever delivered to the station by a robotic spacecraft, ESA officials said in a statement.

The March 9 launch of Europe’s cargo freighter to ISS has been delayed two weeks so that engineers can climb inside and tighted two straps holding two cargo containers in place.

The March 9 launch of Europe’s next cargo freighter to ISS has been delayed two weeks so that engineers can climb inside and tighten two straps holding two cargo containers in place.

I suspect the reasons behind this problem are quite embarrassing, which is probably why the press releases are so vague about why the straps were loose and how the Europeans discovered the problem.

ATV burns up, Progress launched

Busy day for travel to and from ISS: The European unmanned ATV freighter Johannes Kepler burned up in the atmosphere even as a Russian Progress freighter was launched.

In related news, the U.S. and ESA are in negotiations to merge the European unmanned ATV freighter program with NASA’s manned Orion derivative. At the same time, Europe has announced its plans to test fly a reusable space plane.