The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), 20 tonnes and the size of a double-decker London bus, is the largest spacecraft ever built in Europe. The unmanned vehicle will be used to ferry cargo to the International Space Station and to raise its orbit. Astronauts and cosmonauts have to undergo numerous in-depth training sessions to learn how to operate ATV in orbit.
To be able to implement an ATV training class at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, you need just four essential ingredients:
A high fidelity ATV mock-up – to familiarise the astronauts with the interior of the ATV and how to physically operate the ATV 'hardware'
An ATV simulator, which teaches the astronauts how to control the software that navigates the spacecraft and provides telemetry when the ATV is docked to the ISS
A classroom in which the astronauts can learn the theoretical part of operating the ATV, from an ATV mission overview through to complex scenarios of possible malfunctions, and last but not least,
- Seven experienced, certified instructors who can safely guide the astronauts through the complexities of operating the ATV.
These four ingredients thrown into one training pot and carefully stirred, result in an intricate ATV training schedule at EAC, divided into two one-week training modules.