Verticalization!

Today, aside from liftoff, is by far the most spectacular sight.  Watching as the Proton rolls to the launch pad and is made vertical is always impressive.  It has taken an enormous amount of effort by the mission teams to get to this point.  The campaign is in single digits as we await the launch of TURKSAT-4A!

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Rollout to Breeze M Fueling!

On a very cold February 9th, at approximately 8:00am, the Proton rocket with TURKSAT-4A left Hall 111 via railcar heading for the Breeze M fueling station.  After two days, fueling is now complete and rollout to Launch Pad 24 will take place tomorrow.  Some team members took the opportunity to visit the Gagarin Museum today.  The museum is located within the Baikonur Cosmodrome and houses many artifacts including a Sputnik model, Yuri Gagarin’s uniform as well as a Russian Buran Space Shuttle replica.   

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The AU Meets Proton!

Last night a large group witnessed the spectacular Soyuz launch watching as pitch black instantly turned to apparent daylight.  It was quite an exciting event!  And today an equally spectacular sight was the TURKSAT-4A AU mating to the Proton rocket to form the integrated launch vehicle or ILV.  After weeks of preparation the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft finally made its way by railcar to Hall 111 for integration.  We are getting closer to liftoff!

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PLF Signing and a launch!

With the TURKSAT-4A satellite fully encapsulated by the 2 payload fairing halves, the teams took the opportunity to sign the company logos.  This is always a grand event as team members can write a message to loved ones back home, are able to thank colleagues for their efforts up to this point or just sign their name to an object that will travel into space!  Also occurring tonight is an unmanned Soyuz launch.  A group will take the trip to view the launch. 

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OU is now AU!

Today we woke to find the trees had gotten a fresh coat of frost overnight, temporarily restoring beauty to our barren landscape.  Indoors, the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft was mated to the Breeze M upper stage and made horizontal in the tilter.  The entire unit was then encapsulated by the payload fairing and is now referred to the Ascent Unit (AU).  This stage also marks the last work day for several MELCO team members as their satellite is now safely encapsulated.  The next event on the launch campaign is for the AU to be transported to Hall 111 for mating to the Proton rocket.   

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2 Weeks’ Worth!

It is hard to believe we have been here in Baikonur for only two weeks as so much has been accomplished.  It is not by chance, as launch campaigns are well planned down to the detailed daily activities. Turksat-4A processing is right on schedule with many operations taking place over the past few days.  The Breeze M underwent 2 days of high-pressure loading and has returned to Building 92A-50 awaiting Joint Operations to begin.  The Proton remains in Hall 111 as testing continues.  And the Turksat-4A spacecraft has continued its preparations including oxidizer loading and will soon be fueled.
 

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Ongoing operations!

Over the weekend various planned testing and operations continued in preparation for the launch of the TURKSAT-4A satellite. The Breeze M was transported to Area 141 today, where it will undergo fueling.  The customer enjoyed seeing their Breeze M, appreciating the clear blue skies as the backdrop. Also taking place today was a tour of Hall 111.  This allowed the teams the opportunity to see the Proton hardware up close, which is always an impressive site.

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Weekends in Baikonur

While the launch teams work very long hours and do not take weekends off, there was a chance to come together for a BBQ on Saturday night.  With TURKSAT, MELCO and the MEXSAT site visit team joining us as well as all of the various satellite contractors it made for a truly International event.  Many thanks to the ILS site visit team for planning and executing a wonderful evening! While the primary focus during a launch campaign in Baikonur is for a successful mission it is always nice to interact with the customer and manufacturer outside of the processing halls.  A certain camaraderie is usually forged despite the language and cultural differences.  

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Unpacking and Moving In!

Today’s activities included unpacking and inspection of the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft (SC) from its shipping container in Hall 101.  Later tonight the SC will be moved to Hall 103A where it will begin testing.  Concurrently, operations with the Proton launch vehicle and the Breeze M are proceeding nominally in Hall 111 and Hall 101 respectively.
Today we also welcomed the visiting members from the Secretary of Communications and Transportation of Mexico, MEXSAT, for a site visit of Baikonur.  Similar to TURKSAT and MELCO, MEXSAT is a first time ILS customer.  ILS is very proud to host new customers and eager to show MEXSAT the Baikonur Cosmodrome facilities.
 

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The Spacecraft has landed!

Today the TURKSAT-4A spacecraft landed in Baikonur at Yubileiny Airport.  The team spent a frigid day managing the spacecraft and equipment offload from the Antonov aircraft. It is a slow and careful process to maneuver the spacecraft container from the Antonov to the railcar.  The railcar with the spacecraft is now headed to Building 92A-50 and will begin processing.  It should be mentioned that with the TURKSAT-4A arrival a new milestone has been met in Baikonur as this is the first satellite manufactured by MELCO to be launched on ILS Proton.  We welcome MELCO and look forward to working with them on this campaign.

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Contact Us!

For the latest news and information, or if you have a question, please email ILS at contactus@ilslaunch.com