The undocking of ATV-3 from the International Space Station late last night was postponed due to an incorrect command. During operations ATV-3 performed perfectly in line with its pre-defined measures.
A new attempt to undock will likely be made on Thursday, pending approval by the board of the Station management team this afternoon. Meanwhile, ATV Edoardo Amaldi is safe and in a dormant mode.
The issue was discovered by the Space Station crew shortly before undocking, when they attempted to send a command from a control panel to ATV-3. Receipt of the command was not confirmed by ATV-3, so the undocking was suspended.
Experts from ESA, NASA and Roscosmos have determined that the problem was caused by commands being sent using the wrong spacecraft identification number.
Power and data links had already been disconnected between ATV-3 and the Station to prepare for the departure. Afterwards, they were re-established by controllers at ESA’s ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France.
“The joint ESA/CNES mission operations team reacted professionally and skilfully to this unexpected delay,” said Massimo Cislaghi, ESA’s ATV-3 Mission Manager.
“Engineers immediately set to work to reschedule the undocking and reconfigure ATV-3 into safe mode while we and our international partners were troubleshooting the issue.”
ATV Edoardo Amaldi performed perfectly during the undocking procedure and is standing by for the next attempt.
Operational considerations will now postpone ATV-3 reentry to at least 2 October.
Ariane Flight VA213
Initial checkout has begun at the Spaceport for Europe’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which is to be launched from French Guiana by Arianespace on a servicing mission to the International Space Station next year.
The activity underway includes verifications of the ATV’s Service Module in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation building, where it has been joined by the resupply spacecraft’s other major spacecraft element – the Integrated Cargo Carrier.
Incorporated in the Service Module are the ATV’s propulsion systems, electrical power, computers, communications and most of its avionics; while the Integrated Cargo Carrier is dedicated to carrying the resupply payload to the International Space Station – with a maximum upload capacity of 6.6 metric tons.
This no. 4 ATV has been named after Albert Einstein, and it is scheduled for a liftoff in the spring of 2013 on Arianespace’s workhorse heavy-lift Ariane 5.
Arianespace is responsible for launching the ATVs for Europe, lofting the first in March 2008, followed by the two other in February 2011 and March 2012. The most recently-launched ATV remains at the International Space Station, with its undocking scheduled next week for an atmospheric reentry to complete another successful multi-month resupply mission.
Managed by the European Space Agency, the ATV program is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s creation and operation. The Astrium division of EADS is the ATV’s prime contractor, leading a European industry team.
Update 28.09.2012 ATV-3 hat von ISS abgedockt und ist auf Re-Entry-Kurs in die Erdatmosphäre Frams: NASA-TV