September 30, 2008

ATV takes its final dive

After 7 months in space, the Jules Verne ATV has completed its mission after a flawless destructive re-entry guided by the ATV Control Centre at CNES’s facility in Toulouse, France.
29 September 2008

Key step

Monday 29 September, just over 3 weeks after undocking from the International Space Station, the ATV was guided by the ATV-CC in Toulouse to a destructive re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific. “The re-entry operations performed here today from the CNES space centre in Toulouse mark a key step in the ATV programme and the ISS exploration programme,” said CNES President Yannick d’Escatha.
The re-entry was performed in 2 stages: first, the ATV’s circular orbit was lowered from 330 km to 220 km; 3 hours later, a second manoeuvre brought the cargo vessel to its re-entry point. It then descended through the atmosphere at an angle calculated to carefully control the trajectory of residual debris.
The destruction of Europe’s resupply spacecraft was observed by 2 aircraft over the Pacific equipped with a suite of sensors, and from space by the ISS crew using an ultraviolet spectrometer. These observations will help to devise more accurate and reliable atmospheric re-entry models for future ATV missions.

ATV re-entry. Credits : CNES 2008.

9 key ATV mission dates

- 9 March: Ariane 5-ES sends ATV aloft from the Guiana Space Centre.
- 29 March: Demo-day 1.
- 31 March: Demo-day 2.
- 3 April: Successful docking with Russian Zvezda module on ISS.
- 5 April: ISS crew enters ATV.
- 25 April: ATV boosts ISS orbit, the 1st of 4 such manoeuvres during its mission.
- 28 August: ISS manoeuvred to avoid collision with space debris, using the ATV’s thrusters.
- 5 September: ATV undocks from ISS.
- 29 September: ATV burns up on re-entry.

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