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Key dates

2014 July 29: launch ATV-5
2015 Jan 26: DC8 upload
2015 Feb 14: ATV undock
2015 Feb 24: DC8 deploy
2015 Feb 27: ATV re-entry


Jay Grinstead (NASA Ames) - NASA project manager
Holger Krag (ESA, SDO) - ESA project manager
Stefan Loehle (U. Stuttgart) - European science team lead
Peter Jenniskens (SETI Inst.) - DC8 Project Scientist

NASA - Jessica Culler
ESA - Daniel Scuka

Research library

+ ESA ATV-5 news website
+ NASA ISS Office
+ ESA Space Debris Office
+ NASA Orbital Debris Program Office
+ NASA Ames Research Center

+ ATV-1 Reentry Observing Campaign

Mission: A multi-instrument airborne campaign to monitor the shallow reentry of ESA's 5th, and final, Automated Transfer Vehicle over the south Pacific ocean to better understand the physics of the end of life International Space Station de-orbit and the physics of shallow uncontrolled reentries.


June 22, 2016 - This is not the full story: read about the upcoming
Cygnus OA6 Re-entry Observation Campaign

group photo

Ten of the 31-person strong ATV5 team during upload, ready to deploy in a next opportunity. From left to right: Ron Dantowitz (Dexter Southfield), Fabian Zander (U. Stuttgart), Ferdinand Fahlbush (Astos), Thomas Marynowski (U. Stuttgart), Marek Kozubal (Dexter Southfield), Stefan Loehle (U. Stuttgart), Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute), Sven Weikert (Astos), Dave Buttsworth (U. Southern Queensland), and Forrest Gasdia (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University). [High-Res version]

ATV5 reentry from ISS
The ATV5 debris could left in the Earth's atmosphere as photographed by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard ISS. Photo: ESA/NASA.

February 20, 2015 - ESA said today that the breakup recorder that was inside ATV-5 during the reentry failed to transmit images from inside the vehicle during its breakup on February 15. [More]

February 15, 2015 - ATV-5 entered the Earth's atmosphere over the South Pacific ocean early this morning at 18:04 UT. [More]

ATV5 and ISS
ATV5 in free flight shortly after undock. Photo by ATV5 Reentry Observation Campaign participant Sebastiaan de Vet from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

February 14, 2015 - ATV-5 has left the building. [More]

instrument tests

February 12, 2015 - As a final effort to be prepared for the next shallow reentry opportunity, our team met at 4 am this morning to perform instrument checks, using calibration lamps at the far end of the darkened hangar. Later that morning the instruments and their racks were unloaded and readied for shipment home. It was a very sad moment to walk one last time through the DC8 aircraft, making sure nothing was left behind. The last item to collect was our mission logo sign at the bottom of the stairs.


February 11, 2015 - Our flight has been postponed. This morning, we investigated the possibility of performing a daytime reentry observation campaign to Tahiti on Sunday February 15. Jim calculated the new observation point and found it was not far from where we would have been on Feb 27, even closer to Tahiti. We made sufficient progress with the DC8 preparations to not have a significant show stopper there either.

However, the objective of the ATV5 Reentry Observation Campaign was to study the physics and dynamics of shallow reentries relevant to the ISS de-orbit and it was decided this morning that the remaining funds for such a study be better saved for a next observation attempt during a future controlled reentry of another (necessarily smaller) spacecraft. Those already arrived at AAOF are finishing work today and tomorrow to improve our instrument installations so we are ready for this next opportunity.

February 11, 2015 - Niel Murray of ESA reports that ESA's breakup recorder (BUC) was successfully installed on ATV5 by Samantha on Monday evening (GMT). Jack Bacon reports that NASA's REBR has been returned to the ISS and will be available for a future reentry.

February 10, 2015 - The shallow reentry was cancelled today. The ATV5 spacecraft had a power chain failure on February 3, which has forced ESA to reenter the vehicle immediately after undock on Saturday. For safety reasons, it would not be possible to execute a shallow reentry. ATV will be reentered on a steep trajectory Sunday February 15 during daytime.

OMIT fit check

February 10, 2015 - Images above show the TERAS install, the OMIT and AHI instrument fit-check at the window, and instrument principal investigator David Buttsworth, who arrived today from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

February 10, 2015 - NASA Armstrong conducted the Flight Readiness Review and Operational Readiness Review this morning. Pending the open items, such as completion of the instrument upload, the DC8 team and researchers are ready to observe the reentry. There are no remaining hurdles that can not be overcome, assuming the reentry happens as planned reachable from Tahiti in the morning of February 27. We are waiting for the final decision by ESA on when and how ATV-5 will be re-entered following the February 3 ATV5 power chain failure (one of four redundant systems).

Arrival of Dexter Southfield team

February 9, 2015 - Today, we finally made some progress with the installation of TERAS, which will hopefully be completed tomorrow. Next up are the OMIT and AHI installations, with Ron Dantowitz as Instrument Principal Investigator. The Dexter Southfield team arrived from a snowy Boston this afternoon with about a third of their equipment in tow. Ron Dantowitz (foreground with telephone), Marek Kozubal and Forrest Gasdia (now at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) immediately started unpacking.

February 8, 2015 - Allocated funding has started to flow to the participating researchers and aircraft operators. Stefan Loehle reports that contract negotiations with ESA have been completed and ESA issued the first contract number for the ATV-5 Reentry Observation Campaign to the University of Stuttgart to support the mission science teams that will deploy onboard NASA's DC8. NASA supports the deployment of the aircraft in this ESA-NASA airborne observation campaign.

[Archive - Upload week 2: Com checks and TERAS install]
[Archive - Upload week 1: Twilight and CEFIR install]
[Archive - Phase I: Preparations]

SETI Institute logo Curator: Peter Jenniskens
Responsible NASA Official: Jay Grinstead
Responsible ESA Official: Holger Krag

Last update: July 27, 2014

Hosted by: The SETI Institute
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