Flight rules

ATV Control Centre
ATV Control Centre

Flight Rules are the primary operational guidelines for the ATV-CC Flight Director, who is responsible for conducting an ATV mission. For the entire ATV mission, Flight Rules describe the decisions to take in different situations. This highly complex manual is not used by astronauts on the International Space Station. The few flight rules that require astronaut action are included in the Onboard Data Files, which are like a check list used by airline pilots.

There are two types of Flight Rules:

  • ATV Flight Rules are specific to ATV when it is in free flight, before it navigates towards the International Space Station (before the so-called Proximity Operations). These are defined by ATV-CC in Toulouse.
  • Joint Flight Rules for ATV mission phases that involve the Space Station such as rendezvous and docking (Proximity Operations, approach and departure) and attached phase operations (refuelling, reboost and transfers of air and water). All Joint Flight Rules are common to the three control centres: ATV-CC in Toulouse, Mission Control Centre in Houston, USA, and the Mission Control Centre in Moscow, Russia.

The Flight Rules are essential to assure the Flight Director that, when he takes a decision, all the cases have been studied in a safe and consistent manner. They limit the possibility for him to face a new scenario without knowing the highly complex implications. The Flight Rules are the result of year-long studies where combinations of failures have been envisioned and tested.

The Flight Rules cover the whole mission from countdown to ATV re-entry and burn up of the ATV over the Pacific Ocean. Flight Rules are simply rules, their implementation requires the next step, called the Procedures.

Last update: 4 June 2013

Copyright 2000 - 2014 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.