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What a Week!

August 5, 2009 7:11 pm (GMT)
ILS Launch Team

[b]26 July to 2 August[/b] [b]What a week![/b] This week saw many different stages of testing, processing and integration. Whether it was the last glimpse of the AsiaSat 5 SC before encapsulation, signing of the fairing, the move to Hall 111 or the integration of the Space Head Unit (SHU) to the Proton Launch Vehicle (LV), each phase left echoes of the hard work of many. With welcomed sighs of relief, the next phase of processing is underway. Now that the Orbital Unit (OU) has been encapsulated within the Payload Fairing (PLF) it is referred to as the SHU or Ascent Unit (AU). [b]Payload Fairing Signing[/b] The signing of the payload fairing is an opportunity for all of those personnel that have worked on this program to say their goodbyes, hellos and well wishes on the fairing logos to teammates and loved ones. These messages are not taken for granted. Many contemplate their message(s), intensely, before signing the fairing. Numerous signatures and messages proudly adorn the logos …little notes to loved ones, both here in the present and to those who have moved on, messages to their team members, well wishes for a successful flight, simple signatures (I was here and proudly contributed to this program). These messages are prominently displayed for all on the fairing. The fairing is one of the more notable features of the LV. As every piece of the rocket has its function, the fairings job is to house and protect the SC on its voyage to orbit. A more appropriate place to display the logos of the program and pride of the team would never be found. Along with the “fun” stuff (PLF Signing), all parties worked to the rigorous schedule to ensure the safety and success of the mission. Just as before, every step was meticulously noted and logged accordingly. [b]SC Move to the LV Integration Hall[/b] Once again, precision and finely coordinated efforts are evident as the AU was prepared for movement to the next processing phase. The carefully choreographed movement of the AU was an impressive sight. As the train pulled away with the AsiaSat 5 SC a sigh of relief could be felt. The next phase in processing is the integration of the AU to the Proton Launch Vehicle (LV). Cultural diversity is one of the program’s strengths. I have always been amazed that without regard to the number of different languages spoken or the unique cultural differences here, we are one very large inseparable team working to ensure the success of this mission. The professionalism and willingness to get the job done and done right is inspiring. One team, one mission…successful launch and deployment of the AsiaSat 5 SC. [b]Yurt Alert – 1 August[/b] For a special dinner, the head of Areas 95 arranged to have 10 people to travel to a traditional yurt on Saturday. A local camel and cattle rancher hosted the event, in which traditional Kazakh foods and beverages were sampled in a hand-made yurt which the family uses for most of the year. The host and his family were warm and inviting, and the children were wearing their finest clothes complete with AsiaSat 5 Launch Campaign patches and pins. As an extra treat, rides on the host’s camel and horse were provided, and all had a fantastic time. To top it all off, the guest of honor, our AsiaSat customer was provided the most coveted of all, a boiled goat’s head! [b]Mini BBQ – 2 August[/b] After the SC was moved to LV Integration Hall, ILS provided the team with a little time to relax with a mini BBQ at the Fili Hotel pavilions. The mood was tranquil and members from each team pitched in to help prep and cook the food. Tri-tipped beef, chicken, homemade hamburgers, sausage links and cold beer were served at 1800 hours under a sky canvassed with abundantly large white puffy clouds. A cool breeze blew gently as we relaxed, ate, listened to music and enjoyed each other’s company.

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