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June 8, 2010

Please check out the [url=assets/pdf/The-Beam-Spring-2010-pgs-14-18.pdf]Baikonur Diary [/url] written by Edgar Villongco, Vice President, Market Communications at SES WORLD SKIES

May 10, 2010

One of the Astrium personnel (Maxime) happens to be a volunteer fireman in France and he aspires to become a professional fireman. At his request, we arranged a visit to the local Fire Station located between bldg 92A-50 and our hotel area. Maxime had a desire to see the station, meet the Russian crew, and exchange crew T-shirts with them. The visit took place on 7 May and it easily exceeded our collective expectations. The Fire Chief greeted us and gave us a comprehensive tour of the station and all of their firefighting equipment. Throughout the tour, Maxime was able to ask many questions as he compared firefighting in France with firefighting in Baikonur. There are several young ladies at the station that were quite eager to have their picture taken alongside Maxime. The station itself is very impressive with a crew of 80. They are rightfully proud of their equipment and station, both of which are well-maintained and immaculate. Without our asking, the crew even conducted a fire drill for us, demonstrating how fast they can be ready to respond to an actual fire emergency (trucks rolling with sirens on). To top things off, after exchanging T-shirts, Maxime was outfitted in full Russian firefighting gear for a very warm photo opportunity. Overall, it was a very nice international exchange of good will.

April 24, 2010

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the SES-1 satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corporation for SES WORLD SKIES. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 16:17 EDT, or 20:17 GMT, 8 hours and 58 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 four times, and then releasing the satellite into transfer orbit.

April 24, 2010

We have confirmed that the Breeze M upper stage has successfully completed its 3rd burn, as well as jettisoning its auxilliary propellant tank. The vehicle is now in a 5-hour coast period, during which we will have nothing to report. The 4th burn is scheduled to start around 3:51 p.m. EDT, or 19:51 GMT. Separation of the SES-1 spacecraft is scheduled to follow the 4th burn completion by about 14 minutes.

April 24, 2010

As the Breeze M upper stage of our Proton M rocket continues its climb into space with the SES-1 satellite, we have received confirmation that the 2nd burn of the upper stage occurred and shut down as scheduled. The next events are scheduled for about 2 hours from now. The Breeze M upper stage will ignite for a 3rd time and burn for approximately 20 minutes; after that the additional propellant tank will be jettisoned. All this will happen while the vehicle is again out of range of a ground station. We should reacquire the vehicle shortly after the APT is jettisoned.

April 24, 2010

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 confirmation of the second burn.

April 24, 2010

We had a successful liftoff about 11 minutes ago of our Proton M Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the SES-1 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 4 minutes.

April 24, 2010

We have liftoff! of the Proton M Breeze M rocket and the SES-1 satellite.

April 15, 2010

.. or rather, putting it all together. We've been busy the last several days mating the SC to the adapter, mating the SC/Adapter to the Breeze M, encapsulating the whole assembly, and today, we mated them all with the Proton. We now have an integrated launch vehicle! We will perform some testing tomorrow, then it's onto the Breeze M filling station and then the pad. On Tuesday, the SES customer gave us a taste from home - Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches. The American team loved them (I personally had 2), and the Russian team members had a sample of a uniquely American dish. As we like to say, bacon makes everything better.

April 12, 2010

The SES and Orbital Sciences Corporation teams here are happy to report, the SES-1 spacecraft successfully completed its standalone testing – one of the first major hurdles to getting to launch. After standalone testing finished, the Propellant team from Orbital Sciences, with support from ILS and KhSC, filled the SES-1 spacecraft with hydrazine propellant. This potentially hazardous operation was safely completed yesterday, paving the way for joint operations to begin today, 11 April. This is the next phase of the campaign, where we start mating the various components together to make the integrated launch vehicle.

April 5, 2010

The SES-1 launch team celebrated the Easter holiday this past weekend. Several members of the ILS team went to town to attend the midnight Easter Vigil Mass at the Russian Orthodox Church on Easter eve, and we awoke to Easter eggs and traditional cakes for breakfast. Later that afternoon, we had a joint BBQ with all the Russian and American personnel where we enjoyed California Tri-Tip beef and the excellent fried potatoes that the kitchen makes for us on special days. Top it off with the special Easter desserts, and we were all very stuffed by the end. The SC is doing well and continuing its standalone operations. The Proton and Breeze M are in the final stages of testing, and preparing for the arrival of the SC in order to start joining the entire assembly into the "integrated launch vehicle."

March 31, 2010

At 10AM sharp, local time, the AN-124 carrying the SES-1 spacecraft arrived in Baikonur, and soon the front door was opened and the Orbital, ILS, SES and KhSC teams got right to work unloading the precious cargo from plane. It was a bright, sunny spring day with temperatures in the 50’s, so it was near perfect conditions for the operations. The Container was transferred over to the rail car, as well as all the campaign support equipment, including our personal gear. After transferring the SC into Building 92A50 that night, it always feels like Christmas morning as we unload our personal gear and see the goodies that we sent in. The fitcheck will start tomorrow, and it will be a very long day for all the teams, so we are looking forward to getting the SC into Hall 103A so we can start the stand alone SC processing.

March 30, 2010

The SES-1 Early Team arrived safe and sound at Yubileiny Airfield on 27 March, where our KhSC and ZERKT friends welcomed us back for another campaign. Our team has a mix of Baikonur veterans, rookies, and even some of the spacecraft (SC) team who have previously worked other non-Proton Baikonur missions. After settling into the hotel, we started the campaign off with our inaugural coordination meeting the next morning. The day was spent getting the building configured for this campaign, certifying and verifying all support systems, and deploying all our various communications devices (radios, phone lines to the U.S., internet, and even the occasional bullhorn). With the arrival of the Breeze M on the 28th, we have all of the Proton hardware in Baikonur needed for the launch. We are now finalizing coordination and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the SC on 30 March.

March 30, 2010

Welcome to the third ILS Proton launch campaign for 2010 – the launch of the Orbital-built, SES-1 satellite for SES WORLD SKIES. Follow along with the mission team as they prepare for the launch.

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