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ATV3 docking on the ISS (March 28th 2012)

A few days ago the ATV3 docked onto the ISS for delivery of goods. The ATV is a so called “shopping trolley” for the girls and guys in space, bringing them fresh food, new hardware for their lab and clean socks.

The ATV3 is launched with a rocket and arrives a few days later at the ISS space station. There it will dock after many checks and recalculations to the ISS. Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuijpers has had training to be able to do this docking manoeuvre, if necessary even all manual. If you want to try for yourself, read this site from ESA.

The images below are taken during such a docking process. This one took place on March 28th 2012 and took a few hours to complete.


ATV3 now visible as a pinpoint of light, 3249m from ISS (images via livestream from the European Space Agency ESA )


The ATV3 visible from the ISS now; with earth in the background.
Want to follow the ISS track? Look here on n2yo


Now clearly visible: The X shape from the ATV3 “shopping trolley” for the ISS


ATV3 almost at 500 meters from ISS – hovering above the Pacific Ocean somewhere


Reach out and touch


Somewhere, close above Argentina/Chili … ATV3 approaches the ISS for docking


ATV3 now at S3 holdpoint. Videometer & Telegoniometer will start to provide laser-guided navigation. Waiting for GO. Then it will turn towards the ISS (which it is doing ATM)


ATV3 now fully turned toward ISS for docking


ATV3 approaching the ISS a lot slower than the 8m/s it did before now


4 little blinking red dots from the ATV3 approaching the ISS fast. André Kuipers is working hard to get it docked I presume!

The ATV and ISS have now entered the shadow side of the earth; which means it is all pitch dark.


Seems they’re finally approaching the ISS with the ATV3


And then there is that little moving dot at the left top which makes you wonder what/where it is.

ATV3 approaching the ISS now again after the 3rd stop and checks. Current distance less than 230m; approaching with ca. 5cm/second.


ATV3 now travelling in the dark area above Iraq – the 5 lights you see is the nose of the ATV3 pointing towards the ISS , no oilfields burning.


100 meters to go for ATV3 towards the ISS – I guess that it’s all done in darkness watching the map from n2yo


Via ESA the more technical view of the approach from ATV3 towards the ISS …. they’ll come into sunlight soon.


Yes! Sunlight shows the ATV3 with only 50m distance from the ISS. Currently flying over Mongolia


Stop-point S4 for ATV3 – 19m away from the ISS ; she’ll move forward within 10 minutes. Currently flying over Japan


All stations reporting GREEN/GO at ATV-CC for departure for ATV3 from S4 (stop 4) 19m from ISS


3 more minutes to go for the ATV3 before it is allowed to approach the ISS after S-4 (Stop-4).


Can you imagine this all is happening some 382.55km above our heads? ATV3 docking at ISS – I just heard 14 meters difference between the 2.


S41: Last point they stop the ATV3 at before docking the ISS – 11 meters distance, floating 380km/h above our heads and going with a nice 7.42km/s (yes, 7420 meters per second, 4.61 miles per SECOND).


Looks like she’s in!


Automatic docking sequence has started ATV3 ISS – They’ve got the spaceferry!

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