Kourou, January 2013: Albert Einstein has emerged from a 12-day hibernation. This fourth ATV is on schedule for on-time delivery to ESA for its planned launch on 18 April 2013. Shortly before Christmas, the integration team fitted the solar panels to the spacecraft and checked the propulsion and piping systems for leaks and functional reliability, thereby initiating the flight preparation phase. The water tanks were filled with approximately 560 litres of drinking water. The majority of the payload was securely stowed in the ICC (Integrated Cargo Carrier) during the Dry Cargo Integration process. In addition, initial set-up work was completed on the ground systems for fuelling. Knowing there is a busy time ahead at the beginning of 2013 all possible preparations have been made: mating the ICC and the spacecraft in January, fuelling in February. March and April will see further test phases and Late Cargo Loading, where the final payload bags will be loaded into the module.
Further pictures can be found hereafter…
Surrounded by scaffolding and ground testing systems, the ICC cargo module (right) and spacecraft (rear left) of ATV-4 await mating and subsequent flight preparations. Water and most of the cargo have been on board since late 2012; fuel is to follow in February/ March. The launch is scheduled for 18 April.
A glimpse inside the ICC of the ATV shortly before the cargo was loaded. The ATV team successfully completed loading before Christmas. The ICC was sealed during the first week in January. The only access is now via the narrow hatch, which the astronauts will later have to pass through.
The test adapter is installed in the ICC with precision and according to strict procedures.
Checks for leakages in the re-fuelling system are carried out in a vacuum using liquid nitrogen.
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