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Going Horizontal

February 2, 2010 7:06 am (GMT)
ILS Launch Team

After a successful mating of the SC-PLA to the Breeze M, the sum of which is referred to as the Orbital Unit (OU), there was very little time to admire the handiwork as we moved right into payload fairing (PLF) encapsulation the very next morning. The first order of business required for encapsulation is the need to have the SC in a horizontal position. This is one of the more harrowing operations to witness. Here is the OU stack, SC fully loaded with propellant, coupled with the Breeze M upper stage, which is mounted to the tilt-over fixture. That is a whole lot of inches and a whole lot of pounds, supported only by the mounting base, and we have to rotate it from vertical to horizontal in order to install the payload fairing. No matter how many times one observes this operation, one cannot help but watch and comment that it is just not supposed to look like this. It can be quite nerve-wracking during these 30 minutes. It seems to get very quiet in Hall 101 while everything is underway, but the method once again proved true. The SC, Breeze M, PLA system and moved to horizontal just as they were supposed to do. It really is a spectacular sight to see.

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