It is Friday morning and L-5 days to launch. After two relatively quiet days of Integrated Launch Vehicle (ILV) checks, it is time to move it to the Breeze M fueling station. This is day one of two days of one of the more hazardous operations that will take place during a launch campaign. The ILV is positioned on a specially designed rail car – it needs to support the entire length and mass of a fully integrated Proton M launch vehicle! With the ILV ready to roll, the troops gathered outside of Hall 111 in anticipation of the transport.Â It’s breathtaking to watch the horizontal ILV roll slowly out of the building. The only thing that could bring on more goosebumps would have been Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” playing on loudspeakers as it came out! The unit is towed out, and then backed up into the Breeze M fueling station, which looks like a huge carport. This is its home for two days as the Breeze M multi-burn main engine takes on fuel. All fueling operations are completely controlled by Khrunichev specialists.Â Because of the nature of the fueling operations, Building 92A-50 is cleared of all nonessential personnel. With a couple of days off â€“ or at least away from the office â€“ for most of the team, it is time for another barbecue! Even though it has cooled off significantly since our first barbeque, everyone is ready to gather around the grills for some freshly grilled meat and camaraderie. Add in the beans, potatoes and dessert and you have got a perfect Friday afternoon in Baikonur.
05 Dec 2008