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Catch-up

July 27, 2009 6:52 pm (GMT)
ILS Launch Team

[b]BBQ – Spanish-Style[/b] Sundays are fast becoming the day to BBQ. This past Sunday, Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) out did themselves with a full on Spanish-style BBQ. Preparation was the key to this outstanding soiree! Bright and early Sunday morning, the Fili kitchen was a buzz with slicing, dicing, chopping and frying. Raul was in charge of the guacamole, salsa, carnesada and marinades, Carlos was our tortilla guru, Keryn made the Fried Bread. Then, of course, there is Adam… is there anything this man cannot do? Adam made sure everything else was put out, set up, in place and fired up (including the margarita machine). After 8 hours of preparation time our BBQ began in earnest complete with DJ Nor and his sound system! Great team work pulled off a sensational, food made from scratch, sumptuous BBQ that left everyone wanting more. Too much food and not enough room in the stomach! [b]Hall 111 Tour and Launch Pad Familiarization Tour[/b] One of the cool things you get to experience while on launch campaign in Baikonur is seeing the launch vehicle (LV) for the first time in Hall 111. This week in addition to SS/L SC stand-alone operations, KhSC Breeze M fueling preparations, payload fairing (PLF) and payload adapter (PLA) operations, KhSC made time to take members of the AsiaSat 5 launch campaign team on a brief tour of Hall 111. Not to miss out on an opportunity, the customer also joined the Hall 111 contingency for the chance to see the Proton LV up close. A great photo op was had by all! A familiarization tour of the launch pad, Mobile Service Tower (MST) and the vault also took place for those members of the SS/L team who are experiencing Baikonur for the first time. [b]Soyuz Launch - 24 July 2009[/b] [i]Fridays[/i] – you got to love 'em! In the “regular” world one finishes work on a Friday, packs up and heads off for two days of downtime. Here in Baikonur we all work to a schedule which has been planned out months in advance. A planned break in our schedule allowed this Friday to be different; most of the team got the opportunity to watch the launch of an unmanned Soyuz rocket. At 1515 those of us lucky enough to take the planned break, boarded our big blue bus and took a 40 minute ride to the Gagarin’s Start launch pad. Upon arrival at the launch pad viewing area, we clambered out into the sweltering summer heat to try and get a prime position with the Kazakhstan and Russian locals for photos and viewing of the launch. At 1756 the Soyuz took off into a brilliant blue sky filled with wisps of white clouds. Our amateur and professional shutter bugs couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop. ……[url=http://www.ilslaunch.com/asiasat-5-gallery]see photos in the photo gallery![/url] No matter how long one has been in the rocket launching business, watching a rocket being launched is like being a kid in a candy shop….absolutely breath taking , even more so when you are able to view the launch up close. This week, the propulsion team has spent the days working to prepare the facility and themselves for Oxidizer and Fuel loading. KhSC has been diligently running the planned electrical tests on the Launch Vehicle and preparing the Upper Stage Breeze M for their high pressure fueling. [b]Oxidizer Load[/b] The AsiaSat 5 SC operates with a bi-propellant propulsion system. This means that in the vast emptiness of space, it carries two sets of chemicals that react exothermically (hot and explosively!). When combined a hypergolic reaction produces the thrust necessary to provide final drift orbital insertion. The first commodity loaded on day one of SC fueling was the oxidizer. Day one of fueling was a success! The fueling operations required that all non-essential personnel evacuate Building 92A-50. After a Safety walk-thru of Hall 103A was completed, an agreement was reached that all systems were go for SC loading. A very professional and efficient SS/L propellant team put on their SCAPE suits and loaded the oxidizer into the SC. All non-essential personnel got a day off, which included trips into Baikonur town for some souvenir shopping (a must!) and for others some much needed rest and relaxation. [b]Biscuits and Gravy!![/b] Those willing to awake early Sunday morning, were treated to a Southern style breakfast put on by our friends and colleagues, the Pinkertons. Preparations for the Sunday breakfast began the night before with three long hours in the kitchen making biscuits, learning to speak Russian with the kitchen staff and preparing the most excellent home-made sausage gravy. The hard work and preparations for the next morning’s breakfast really paid off when attendees made room for their second and third helpings of hand-made biscuits and gravy with eggs made to order, bacon, coffee and tea on tap, and freshly squeezed orange juice (for those on a health kick!). [b]MIA Camel[/b] Has anyone spotted a two humped camel? Yesterday afternoon the team was looking forward to experiencing a camel ride ….unfortunately, the camel must have got wind of what was going on and decided to take a short holiday enroute to his commitment at the Fili Hotel. We have been told, that the camel riding event is postponed until the camel has finished his walk-about. The few of us who decide to stay at the Fili instead of going into Baikonur town, were delighted to be visited by “Gorsh’ka’ (Joe) our resident camel, who stopped by the Fili Hotel for lunch and a drink. Joe was content to graze on the forna outside our hotel fence. Some of the guys thought he might be thirsty so we helped to quench Joe’s thirst with buckets of water from the hotel. Two mega buckets of water later, Joe meandered off looking extremely content and hydrated! [b]Fuel Load Ops Complete[/b] Because the propellant loading is a hazardous operation, the building was cleared again and the rest of the non-essential personnel spent the day preparing for our Hawaiian BBQ (Luau) relaxing, traveling into town to shop and eat shashlik (a very tasty Russian ka-bob). All went smoothly and according to plan as the SS/L propellant team loaded the hydrazine fuel into the SC. This operation, which took approximately 3 hours, is the second half of the propellant load and marks the completion of the propellant loading phase of SC. Big Kudos to the propellant loading team for their professional and precise execution of the hydrazine loading phase. We will continue with some post-fueling testing of the SC, flight closeouts of all thermal blankets and removal of some Remove Before Flight (RBF) items over the next several days. Joint Operations commence on Wednesday 29 July.

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