Observation de la terre

Follow ESA's Earth observation missions as they are prepared for liftoff
  1. On Monday, the team had a busy day moving Sentinel-3B to a different cleanroom and mating it with the rocket’s upper stage. To do this, the satellite was hoisted into the air and then lowered onto the upper stage. Once it was assembled and secured on top of the Breeze, the handling device could be removed. At the end of the day, Sentinel-3B was ready to meet the fairing the next day. Yesterday, most of the day was then dedicated to the finalization of the satellite flight configuration. This means removing ‘non-flight protections’, i.e. items that do not go into space and have to be removed from the satellite. So this involved, for example, removing all remaining red-tagged items and the protective covers from the instruments and antennas. At the end of these activities, Sentinel-3B was finally ready to be sealed from view inside the Rockot fairing. We then needed to make sure that the clearance between the satellite and the fairing was ok. This is a critical point – especially because there is only clearance of less than 5 cm between the satellite and the inside of the fairing shells. Anyway, on placing the fairing around the satellite we found, with some relief, all the clearance was ok and, in fact, it fits perfectly! At the end of the day, after a few more checks, the two halves of the fairing were finally closed and Sentinel-3B disappeared from sight, marking the moment we have to say good-bye to our satellite, well ‘visually’ anyway. It was a very emotional moment after so many years of hard work. In conclusion, all remains GREEN for the launch! The weather in Plesetsk sunny -2 / +7 degrees From the ESA Sentinel-3B launch campaign team in Plesetsk Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission
  2. Over the weekend, Sentinel-3B was mated with the launch adapter in the next steps to prepare it for launch next week. Following successful independent testing of both the satellite and the Rockot launcher, we have now reached the phase of the ‘combined operations’, where all teams work together to mount the satellite on Rockot’s upper stage and fit it in the fairing. On Friday, the rocket fairing was inspected to ensure it meets the stringent cleanliness requirements. Upon confirmation, everything was ready to start mating Sentinel-3B to the launch adapter the next day. This was a very delicate operation as the now-fuelled satellite was lifted from the stand on the fuelling platform onto the adapter. But at the end of the day the mating was successfully completed, as the first major step of the combined operations. On Sunday, the first switch-on of the satellite on the adapter was  successfully performed, together with a set of electrical checks to prove that the new assembly is working properly. In the afternoon, satellite and adapter were placed on the yellow transport dolly, ready to be transferred to the 101B cleanroom where the launch adapter, called the Breeze Upper Stage, is located and waiting for us! The weather in Plesetsk mostly sunny -2 / +6 degrees From the ESA Sentinel-3B launch campaign team in Plesetsk Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission
  3. Getting a satellite ready to be launched involves a long list of jobs, but with Sentinel-3B now fuelled, this particular ‘to do’ list is significantly shorter. And, importantly, all is on track for liftoff on 25 April! Since hydrazine is extremely toxic, only specialists dressed in bulky astronaut-like suits remained in the cleanroom for the duration of the activity.  After fuelling, the tank was pressurised to an ‘intermediate level’ and left to stabilise overnight. The following day, the team gradually increased the pressure to the required level. Upon confirmation that there were no hydrazine traces in the air, the fuelling lines could be disconnected and the decontamination phase started. The fill and drain valves have been closed, torqued to the flight value and wire-locked. The drums with the remaining hydrazine have been moved, ready to be taken back to their container. On the launcher side, the Breeze started the first part of its fuelling yesterday, and it will be completed today.  All the activities are so far fully nominal. The weather in Plesetsk sunny -2 / +5 degrees From the ESA Sentinel-3B launch campaign team in Plesetsk Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission
  4. The fuelling team has been suited and booted for the hazardous task of filling the Sentinel-3B satellite with 130 kg of hydrazine – looking good guys! Since this is happening today, only the Thales Alenia Space fuelling team, accompanied by a propulsion expert, a doctor and interpreters are allowed in the MIK. The rescue team and fire brigade are on-call outside, ready to intervene should anything go wrong. The rest of the team is back at the hotel today keeping out of the way and catching up on paperwork and other tasks. Yesterday, however, was busy for everyone. In fact, we split up to cover three locations to carry out our respective duties. One team went out to the launch pad to check on the launch pad power supply that had been installed in the ‘under table’ vault yesterday. Once the ‘self-test’ was completed, they did an end-to-end check on the umbilical transit lines to the satellite simulator connected to the cable interface on top of the tower. The electrical ground support equipment network link to the MIK via fibre optic was also verified. Everything was fine. In the Mission Control Centre, one team checked on the communications and voice loops with ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. These are used on the day of launch for the formal delivery of flight parameters from the launch site to ESOC. In the MIK, the train convoy took the Rockot Breeze upper stage to its fuelling station while the Khrunichev guys finished off cleaning the fairing. At the end of the day we received the green light to fuel both the Breeze and the satellite! The weather in Plesetsk snow but sunny –4°C/+3°C From the ESA Sentinel-3Blaunch campaign team in Plesetsk Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission
  5. After having Sunday off – a very much appreciated rest day – we went back to the MIK yesterday morning with our batteries recharged, ready to continue our adventure. The weather is still making the roads difficult. One of yesterday’s tasks was to transport the ‘launch pad power supply’ to what we call the under-table room, which is a vault under the launch pad. This all went smoothly thanks to the support from the Khrunichev Space Research and Production Center (KSRC) who provided a massive truck equipped with a crane and a team to help with the loading and unloading. By lunchtime, the launch pad power supply was installed in the vault. Once its temperature has settled it’ll be tested. There was a lot of to and fro in the MIK, between the General Hall and cleanroom 101B as anything that isn’t needed for fuelling Sentinel-3B had to be removed. Also the ground support equipment needed by KSRC to continue preparing the launch adapter and the rocket fairing had to be brought inside. This meant we had to coordinate really well so as not to get in each other’s way. In 101A, the satellite activities proceeded as foreseen with the arming of the solar array deployment lines. The mechanical configuration of the satellite is now ready for the fuelling. The propulsion team continued with the set-up and validation of the fuelling station. They also received their scape suit training and rehearsed safety procedures. So far, so good. In 101B, KSRC carried on with some more cleaning, focusing on the launch vehicle adapter and on the internal thermal blankets of the fairing. Once the main AIT team had completed their activities of the day, we all had to leave the MIK. Only a small group of propulsion experts could stay into […]