For the first time last month, technicians at ESAs research centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, including an ESA astronaut, entered inside the vertically positioned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), Jules Verne, in order to simulate the late loading of cargo bags.
An identical operation will be performed for real one week before the first ATV launch on top of an Ariane 5 launcher, from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, in 2006. “This first late access dress rehearsal has been successful and has proved that it is possible to place an operator inside the vertically positioned bus-size Cargo Carrier and load small cargo units - thanks to a retractable mechanism placed inside the ATV - through the opened hatch of the ATV docking system mechanism”, said Dominique Siruguet, an ESA engineer in charge of ATV operations at the French Guiana European launch site.
Dieter Isakeit | alfa
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