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September 23, 2008

After a great launch, with a great team, we are now at the conclusion of our mission. All team members scheduled to come home have already left on the departure charter and we look forward to seeing them back in the office. Thanks to everyone who followed along with the blog. Dont forget, a new mission is just right around the corner.

September 20, 2008

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the Nimiq 4 satellite built by EADS Astrium for Telesat. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 3:00 am Eastern time, or 7:00 am GMT, 9 hours and 11 minutes after liftoff. Everything occurred as planned with ignition, shutdown and separation of the Proton’s first three stages. Then the Breeze M upper stage with the satellite continued the mission, igniting five times, then releasing the satellite into transfer orbit.

September 19, 2008

We have received confirmation of completion of the first burn. The vehicle is now scheduled to be out of range for about an hour, after which we will hear confimation of the second burn.

September 19, 2008

We had a successful liftoff about 15 minutes ago of our Proton M Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the Nimiq 4 satellite. The three stages of the Proton vehicle have performed as planned, and it is up to the Breeze M upper stage to complete the mission. The upper stage has begun its first burn, which is scheduled to last around 8 minutes.

September 19, 2008

We have liftoff! of the Proton M Breeze M rocket and the Nimiq 4 satellite.

September 19, 2008

[align=center][img][/img][/align] [b]15 September[/b] “Yes sir” or “yeah sure” The gang was given approval by the Russian State commission yesterday evening to roll the Launch vehicle out to Pad 39. Following tradition, at 06h30 today we watched the ILV roll out. Once at the pad, we watched as the rocket slowly and quietly tilted and took another opportunity for photos. Later that night, ILS sponsored a SC Erection party. We were also graced with the presence of a few of the Russian State Commission members, and those able to clear their dance cards enjoyed a few spins around the Fili patio. [b]16 September[/b] Welcome “Baik” Today and over the next few days the technical teams will perform routine checks of the ILV. The schedule is proceeding nominally and has allowed for some of the gang to spend time developing other launch vehicles. After another long day, Astrium hosted a dinner at the Kometa to welcome a few Astrium and Telesat personnel who arrived late in the evening. [b]17 September[/b] The gang gets delayed So it’s getting to be that time of year. Some of the veterans to the Cosmodrome say there are two ways to know the weather is changing out here. One, it rains. The other way to tell something big is coming, ominous clouds. The morning of 16 Sept. the ground was wet and today the sky was cloudy. The temperature dropped and the wind has picked up. I won’t mention the elephant in the room, as there is an official press release. The gang just wanted to remind you that when conversations are awkward, people talk about the weather.. [b]18 September[/b] The gang is on standby All teams continued to perform final SC checks, complete paperwork and for some of the ILS team, prepare for the next campaign. We anxiously awaited the arrival of Russian Commission members, as their plane carried the replacement units for the Launch Vehicle. Installation and then testing until late into the night produced positive results, and we are back on schedule (well, add 24hours and 1 minute).The few days of fall are over and winter is blowing in strong. Handicaps increase at the largest bunker of any golf course in the world and while most people are adapting with layers, others are still holding out for Buffet to show up. [b]19 September[/b] Guess who’s coming to the Russian State Commission, Yar. All hands hoay! After a brief final morning meeting, the gang headed for the Launch Pad to watch the blessing of the rocket ceremony. Nothing says “good luck” like a wet slap in the face with a horse hair brush. No, really. It may seem strange, but it's tradition and it is another aspect that makes working in Baikonur so unique. Other note worthy events for the day: the VIP’s arrived this afternoon, it was international talk like a pirate day and the Russian Government Commission meeting is to take place tonight at 20h00.

September 12, 2008

[img][/img] [b]8 September[/b] Safety is our middle name With the Propulsion team working on decontamination and packing up, they were able to schedule-in SCAPE training for some of the gang. (SCAPE stands for Self-Contained Atmospheric Protection Ensemble. It’s what the propellant team wears when they fuel the spacecraft.) We had a blast, and even though it was safety training, there is something about an air-conditioned suit that just says "I came to ROCK." In all seriousness, the 10 minutes we got to train in the suits, these guys have to do for 6+ hours with extremely hazardous materials. They really know what they are doing and they do a great job. [b]9 September[/b] Signed, sealed and photographed The NIMIQ-4 launch campaign continues to stay on schedule. After its ride on the tilter, the satellite and Breeze M were encapsulated by the payload fairing halves, and just like a butterfly from a caterpillar, the SC and Breeze M are now an Ascent Unit. The fun continued while the gang "tagged" the fairing logos and posed for pictures. [b]10 September[/b] Later that same week... The AU was detached from the tilter and lifted onto a railcar for its climate controlled journey to Hall 111. Once comfortably inside Hall 111, the AU was hoisted from the railcar and placed in front of the three stages of the Proton. It was rolled back and very carefully connected to the Proton, thereby forming the Integrated Launch Vehicle, or ILV. [b]11 September...[/b] Really early 11 September... Unmanned Soyuz launch scheduled for 01h49 on 11 September was absolutely spectacular. Night turned to day as liftoff was on time, and after about a minute of rumbling and sunglasses, it was night again. We have never been this close to a launch. Thanks KhSC for arranging our adventure. Although the late night made for a long day today, it was well worth the trip. [b]12 September[/b] Dear ILV, Welcome... The ILV was hoisted from the integration fixtures and placed onto the specially-made rail transporter. On the morning of 13 September, the ILV will roll-out of Hall 111 for a 2-day all expenses paid stay at the Breeze M Fueling Station. [b]13-14 September[/b] Careers in Science You know the drill, haz ops mean days off (Except for Milon, Sorry Milon!). We had many options, like heading into Baikonur city to visit our friends at the meat market, or to pick out that perfect camel hair sweater for the fall. KhSC also arranged another trip out to a "resort" this one called the Blue Lake. Those brave enough to face the 4 hour bus ride are sure to be rewarded with good food, great company and one heck of a beautiful day.

September 8, 2008

[img][/img] [b]3-4 September[/b] Now Mausoleum, Now You Don’t The propulsion team successfully completed the loading of fuel into the SC. Again, 92A50 was cleared of all non-essential personnel giving the rest of the gang an opportunity to visit Kurkut, a Kazakh mausoleum. [b]5 September[/b] Good Morrow to You Sir Astrium completed SC closeouts and prepped the SC to be mated with the Breeze-M. Astrium also held another party at the Polyot to welcome the mid campaign team and say goodbye to the early team. [b]6 September[/b] The Buddy System This is when the SC is mechanically and electrically mated to the Launch Vehicle hardware. The SC was mated to the adapter system and prepared to mate to the Breeze M, which will happen tomorrow afternoon. [b]7 September[/b] Everything gets Intense Inside the Processing Hall... Phew. Watching the tilter slowly rotate a partially fueled Breeze M with the fueled SC from vertical to horizontal was a little tense. The Gang was able to enjoy another successful joint operation and still have time to find the final golden ticket.

September 2, 2008

Here's what the launch team has been up to this past week. [b]25-26 August[/b] Prep-py Mcgoo vs. The Prop Monster The SC contractor has been testing and verifying that the SC is healthy, preparing to load propellants and configuring the SC for launch. While these tests are being conducted, the propellant loading team is completing their checkouts and preparing themselves and equipment for the upcoming days of fueling. [b]27 August[/b] The Gang Goes to Baikonur Some of the team members took advantage of the opportunity to visit the town of Baikonur. One of the warmer days, they were able to enjoy shopping, walk the town and concluded the trip at the local Pizza Restaurant, Palermo's. It was a great day to get away from the Cosmodrome and sample some of the local food and shops. Arriving back, Astrium held a small barbeque at the Kometa. [b]28 August[/b] The Gang does Paperwork The team spent a very busy day reviewing the operational procedures, making sure all precautionary tasks were performed and in place, and that all essential personnel were ready to support the fueling operations. [b]29 August[/b] The Gang Gets Lifted The Nimiq 4 team was invited to view the launch of a Dnepr rocket from Area 31 of the Cosmodrome today. The warm weather and clear skies allowed us to view the rocket lift off and watch as it distanced itself from a rocket! It was simply amazing to watch the lift-off and wait for the sound to reach us. It only took seconds before it was completely out of our sight leaving only a trail of smoke as a reminder. [b]30 August[/b] The Gang Goes Overboard Building 92A-50 was reduced to essential personnel to support the first day of oxidizer loading. All teams were monitoring throughout the day as the progress of the prop team was announced via the radio. In between updates, the rest of the Nimiq 4 team enjoyed a Pétanque tournament. At the end of the day, Astrium congratulated everyone on a job well done with a banquet, inviting Khrunichev, Pinkerton security Telesat and ILS. Needless to say we worked hard enough into the night to really enjoy the rarity of a day off! [b]31 August[/b] A Day at the Museum After the Saturday night festivities and since we were all given the day "off" the gang boarded the bus for an afternoon visit to the Gagarin Museum at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Many thanks go out to Khrunichev for accommodating their visitors with a very personalized tour. The customer was very pleased to find the Launch campaign photograph of the Anik F1R which included two of our customer representatives that are supporting the Nimiq 4 launch campaign! [b]1 September[/b] The Gang Gets Relaxed Khrunichev extended an extraordinary trip deep into Kazakhstan over 1 and a half hours bus ride to "The Zone of Relaxation" for our hardworking customer. It was hard to believe the resort is located in the middle of the desert, but it does exist and provided a day of sun, cool breezes, the opportunity to swim in a lake and a pool, sulfur springs and the chance to relax, something hard to do when working on a launch campaign with such a compressed schedule. Oh did I forget to mention the customer requested the company of two ILS? It was awesome. Customer and ILS reps were very grateful to Khrunichev and our very friendly host.

August 27, 2008

[img][/img] The team has been busy making sure things run smoothly in Baikonur, but they took some time to give us a rundown of what’s been happening as of late. Can you handle the [b]juicy details[/b] of this oh so [b]top secret[/b] info, straight from the team themselves?! [b]20 August (The Beginning…)[/b] Early Team Arrival What a warm welcome we received as our plane touched down at the Yubileyny airport. After a short stop through the customs "house" we headed to the hotel and were greeted by the remaining Inmarsat-4 F3 ILS team members. We were able to enjoy and celebrate for a few hours and then prepare for the arrival of the Main Team on 21 August followed by the NIMIQ 4 satellite on the 22nd. [b]21- 22 August (The Gathering…)[/b] Main Team and Spacecraft Arrival Main Team landed 21 August with no issues, all safe and sound. The following day the offload crew arrived at the airfield before 09:00 to watch as the Antonov carrying the NIMIQ 4 SC landed and taxied in. The crew unloaded the SC and three Sea-Land containers containing equipment and supplies for the campaign, and we watched as the crane moved the containers and eventually the SC onto the train which departed the airfield right on schedule, at exactly 14:00. Even the train was able to appreciate our compressed schedule, arriving a few hours later (but 30 minutes ahead of schedule) at the Processing Facility. The spacecraft container was offloaded from the railcar in Integration Hall 101. [b]23 August (The Tests…)[/b] SC Standalone Testing begins The cargo containers were unpacked and the satellite was gently removed from its container. Afterwards, the satellite was rolled into Hall 103A where it will be the subject of standalone operations over the next several days. [b]24 August (The Food: Good for ya, or Too Good for ya…)[/b] Work hard, eat harder – It’s time for a Mixer! We have our first Joint Operations Jamboree tonight! You’re invited to a party: Where: the FILI hotel When: 18:00 until ... TBD What: cocktails, dinner and the first chance since team arrivals to catch up with past campaign colleagues and to meet the newcomers What to expect: A great time to be had by all

August 22, 2008

The Spacecraft/Ground Support Equipment, Breeze M, Proton, and the Khrunichev/ILS/Telesat/Astrium teams have all arrived safely in Baikonur. The ILS team is unpacking and getting things up and ready to go. We look forward to hearing from them once they've settled in. Go Nimiq 4!

July 18, 2008

Welcome to the fourth ILS Proton launch campaign for 2008 – the launch of the EADS Astrium-built Nimiq 4 satellite for Telesat. Follow along with the launch team as they prepare for the mid-September mission.

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