Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: Docking sensor still to be fixed on ISS before next ATV approach

May 23, 2013

Docking sensor still to be fixed on ISS before next ATV approach

Dear follower,

on June 5th, the European ATV should take off withe Ariane 5 to the International Space Station. However, the engineers are still working on a potential problem with a Laser Radar Reflector (LRR) which allows the spacecraft’s autonomous approach to the station. On April 26, Progress M-19M cargo docked at the ISS with one of its KURS (docking system) folded, due to a failure in the deployment mechanism.

The +European Space Agency, ESA didn't communicated about the possible issue or the solutions to fix the problem. However, Josh Byerly from +NASA  revealed that the Progress’ stowed antenna that may have caused the damage in the vicinity of the docking area, where are located the ATV’s navigation aids.

Engineers were not able to assess the potential damage on ISS because the area where the reflector is located is not visible from inside the station. Only external cameras of departing spacecraft could take a look to the critical area.  In the worst case scenario, ATV carries a backup docking system using telegoniometers that emit laser light at a different wavelength.
Although it is still to be confirmed, it is likely that the next crewed Soyuz set to launch on May 28 would be used to fly a replacement of the device.

We should get more news soon, so stay tune.

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