2008-09-08 - ATV leaves ISSESA's ATV undocks from International Space Station
"Jules Verne" von der Raumstation abgedockt<br /> At the end of a flawless six-month mission, Jules Verne, Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle, undocked from the International Space Station on 5 September at 23:29 hours CEST. The ATV has now embarked on the last leg of its journey in space, which will end with a controlled destructive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere on 29 September.
The hatches between the ISS and the ATV were closed by the Station crew on 4 September following ATV preparation for automated undocking. Once all other pre-undocking tasks had been performed, the ATV hooks were opened, detaching Europe's unmanned logistics vehicle from the Station, with a spring mechanism pushing it slowly away. After drifting unpowered for one minute to a distance three metres away from the Station, the ATV deployed its smaller attitude control thrusters to start its departure boost and distance itself further. Within 22 minutes of undocking, the ATV was right below the ISS at a distance of about 5 km, at which point its automatic emergency systems (which can initiate a Station collision avoidance manoeuvre in the unlikely event of this being necessary) were disabled.
Having completed this 22 minute undocking and departure-boost operation, the ATV is now in its rephasing period, which will last just over 23 days. This covers carrying out manoeuvres to lower the ATV orbit, bringing it back on the same orbital flight path as the ISS but at a certain point below and behind. This time period for carrying out these manoeuvres is necessary in order to optimise fuel consumption, so that the ATV arrives at the correct point enabling its re-entry over a completely uninhabited area of the South Pacific to be viewable from the ISS, as well as from two specially-equipped observation aircraft to be deployed at monitoring locations in the region.