[img]/assets/Images/Media/Ciel-2-Blog/Precious-cargo.jpg[/img] Early morning on Wednesday (04:00 to be exact – we know as we were awake), the spacecraft (SC) in its container made its way on the train from the airport to the processing facility, referred to as 92A-50. The main room of this building, known as Hall 101, is absolutely huge — more than large enough to accommodate all the train cars containing the SC and support equipment, with room to spare for some football shenanigans if so inclined! The SC container was offloaded, placed on the floor of the hall, and all the associated equipment was placed in the areas needed to support the unpacking and testing of the SC. This mammoth task was finished by 10:40 a.m. – making for a very long 25-hour day counting all the operations, but using two shifts of personnel. Once the SC container was offloaded and cleaned, the riggers came in and started the process of removing the SC from its container. This entails removing the lid, rotating the SC from horizontal to vertical, and using the crane to lift it off its supports. The next steps are SC stand-alone testing and propellant load preparation. The ThalesAlenia SC contractor has been busy testing the Ciel II SC in what is known as stand-alone operations. This is the time in the beginning of the launch campaign when the SC contractors work alone to test and verify that the SC is healthy, load propellants and configure the SC for launch. After all these steps are done and the SC is completely ready to go for launch, we start “joint operations” where the SC is integrated with the Proton LV. Right now, ThalesAlenia is in the process of verifying that the SC is completely ready before we proceed to the next step: loading propellants into the tanks inside the SC. In parallel, the SC propellant loading team has been busy with all their checkout preparations. Everything is proceeding per the plan — a result of the last 18 months of preparation by the Ciel II teams. After all was said and done, we made the time to celebrate the dual birthday of our customer. We have been quite cheeky and given them the nickname of “The Twins.”

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