Airbus Defence and Space

ATV mission update

The ATV Jules Verne executed two essential demonstration manoeuvres on 29 and 31 March, in preparation for docking with the ISS next Thursday.

After demonstrating its ability to execute an avoidance manoeuvre on 14 March last, the ATV has since spent several days in a parking orbit. The next demonstration took place on 29 March. The main objective in this case was to execute an approach up to point S2 at 3.5 km from the Station, principally employing the ‘relative GPS’ navigation system for this purpose. This was a world first and validated the ‘homing’ flight phase. Monitored by the control centre in Toulouse, the ATV executed the manoeuvre in perfect safety, concluding the demonstration with a withdrawal procedure during which it made a loop round the ISS to take up a parking position behind the Station.

The results for this first day of demonstrations were assessed by the ATV teams and ISS programme partners (NASA, Roskosmos/RSC Energya, etc.) which then authorised Jules Verne to continue with its test programme.

Final test successful

The final pre-docking test phase was executed on 31 March. This involved testing the complete rendezvous system including the dedicated optical sensors. A number of procedures, controlled from the ATV Control Centre and by the ISS crew, were tested as were also a number of manoeuvres in the immediate vicinity of the ISS. The Jules Verne then moved up to parking position S4.1, a mere 12 metres from its docking point with the Russian Zvezda module, before moving back to its remote parking point behind the Station.

All these demonstrations were executed under nominal conditions, and the Jules Verne has now been authorised to make an initial docking attempt on Thursday 3 April as from 13:44, CET. (‘Contact’ between the ATV and the ISS is scheduled for 16:41 CET).

International Space StationISSATV