Breeze M Arrival

[b]Breeze M Arrival[/b] Shipped via Antonov direct from Moscow to Yubileiny airfield our Breeze M was transferred on to a flat bed semi-tractor trailer, strapped down and took a slow, methodical ride to our processing facility 92A-50 on 15 July 2009. Upon arrival, the Breeze M was unpacked in Hall 101 and placed on its stand. During stand alone operations KhSC personnel are preparing the Breeze M for mating with the PLA and SC. [b]Standalone Operations[/b] The SS/Loral SC contractor has been busy testing the AsiaSat5 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 the SC is ready, load propellants and configure the SC for launch. After all these steps are done and the SC is ready to go for launch, we start “joint operations” where the SC is integrated with the Proton LV. Right now, they are in the process of verifying that the SC is 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 checkouts preparations.

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SC Arrival, Unpack/Fitcheck and BBQ

[b]SC/GSE Arrival[/b] What a day!!! The AsiaSat 5 spacecraft (SC) arrived safely from Palo Alto. We had planned on a 12:00 PM arrival time, but were extremely pleased to have the plane land 45 minutes early. Touch down at 11:15 AM. After clearing customs, the team went into high gear operation mode to remove the SC container and support equipment from the airplane. Unlike most typical off-loads which have the SC container being removed from the front of the airplane, the AsiaSat 5 SC was offloaded from the rear of the plane. With highly orchestrated precision, the collective teams unloaded the airplane and had the SC and additional equipment secured to the train in a record three hours. The SC train consists of a locomotive, a car which holds the passengers (affectionately known as the “Doghouse”), a gage car, flatbeds with the SC equipment, a thermal rail car supplying conditioned air to the SC, and finally the SC itself mounted to a flatbed rail car. The gage car is interesting to note because it is an outline of the SC container. If this gage car happens to hit anything along the way, we would immediately stop because this means that the SC container would also hit if we kept moving. We always pre-verify the track with the gage car months before the SC arrives (to ensure compatibility), the day before arrival, and the day of arrival so we are triply sure that nothing will go awry! After a five-hour trip from the airstrip to the arrival at the processing facility, the SC container and the associated equipment were offloaded and moved into the various areas of the facility in which they will be needed. Next step: Unpacking the SC and performing a fitcheck. [b]Unpack and Fitcheck[/b] On the afternoon of July 10, the 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 a basketball game if so inclined! The SC container was off-loaded at 21:00 and 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 entire operation was finished by 22:45 on July 10 – making for a very long 12 hour day. The SC is well protected within the container, so we left it there overnight. Early the next morning, 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. While this was going on, the Khrunichev specialists were preparing the adapter system on its stand in Hall 101 for a fitcheck. To ensure that there are no problems with the mechanical interface of the SC with the adapter and electrical cabling, we perform this short fitcheck before the SC processing and fueling hall, known as Hall 103A. After a successful fitcheck, the SC was moved to a portable dolly and rolled into Hall 103A – its home for the next 14 days. Next step – SC stand alone testing and propellant load preparations! [b]Fili BBQ[/b] After putting in the hard yards over the last few days, SS Loral put on the first official BBQ of the campaign. We gathered the troops and fired up the grill: tri-tip and ribs with accompanying side dishes and topping it off with the famous Baikonur Honeycake for dessert. We never really know how many expert grillers we have on our campaign until the Pinkerton and SS Loral personnel share their proven grilling methods. We discovered that there is no language barrier when it comes to grilling. The weather was perfect for our informal courtyard gathering at Baikonur’s Fili Hotel. ILS, SS Loral, Khrunichev, AsiaSat, Pinkertons and our staff from Altek spent an enjoyable evening relaxing, dining and anticipating the upcoming spacecraft operations. Short of having this BBQ by the side of a pool, it felt like home.

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Proton and Early Team Arrival

[b]Proton Arrival[/b] Due to the integrity, diligence and hardwork of all parties involved, the AsiaSat5 campaign is coming to fruition in a record breaking five month period. Having said this, the proton arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome prior to the AsiaSat5 early team and is being processed in Hall 111 as we prepare for the SC arrival. [b]Early Team Arrival[/b] After departing a very cool Moscow, the summer heat and warm breeze blowing across the Yubileiny runway was a welcome change as the Asiasat 5 Launch Campaign team all filed through the customs house, stowed our luggage in the under carriage of the big blue bus and made our way towards Area 95 which we will call home for the next several weeks. The bus ride was rather uneventful – the seasoned launch campaign professionals made use of the down time by taking a snooze in an effort to catch up on some sleep and from crossing a plethora of time zones. The “newbie’s” (of which we have quite a few this campaign) were glued to the windows staring in wonder at the endless miles of Kazakh steppes earth, dotted with patches of green. No herds of two hump camels, or wild horses to view on this bus ride. After clambering off the bus and locating our rooms at the Fili Hotel, we sauntered over to the Proton Club where we had our Safety and Security Briefings. In order for the campaign to run smoothly, we have to have a few rules, regulations and guidelines in place. Once the formalities were taken care of, there was enough time for a late dinner before calling it a day.

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Welcome to the AsiaSat 5 Blog

Welcome to the fourth ILS Proton launch campaign for 2009 – the launch of the Space Systems/Loral-built, AsiaSat 5 satellite for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Ltd (AsiaSat). Follow along with the mission team as they prepare for the launch.

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End of SIRIUS FM-5 Mission

It is the end of another successful mission here at ILS. The ILS launch team members that were planning on returning to the US, have done so. Thanks to everyone who followed along with the blog. Please stay tuned because the next launch is already in preparation.

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SIRIUS FM-5 Mission Success!

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the SIRIUS FM-5 satellite built by Space Systems Loral for SIRIUS XM Radio, Inc. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule at 12:24 AM Eastern Time, or 04:24 GMT, 9 hours and 14 minutes after liftoff. Everything occurred as planned with ignition, shutdown and separation of the Proton’s first three stages, then the Breeze M upper stage with the satellite continued the mission, igniting five times, and then releasing the satellite into transfer orbit.

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SIRIUS FM-5 Third and Fourth Burn Completion

We have confirmed that the Breeze M upper stage has successfully completed its 3rd & 4th burns, as well as jettisoning its additional propellant tank. The vehicle is now in a 5-hour coast period, during which we will have nothing to report. The 5th burn is scheduled to start around 12:03 AM EDT, or 04:03 GMT. Separation of the SIRIUS FM-5 spacecraft is scheduled to follow the 5th burn completion by about 15 minutes.

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SIRIUS FM-5 Second Burn Completion

As the Breeze M upper stage of our Proton M rocket continues its climb into space with the SIRIUS FM-5 satellite, we have received confirmation that the 2nd burn of the upper stage occurred and shut down as scheduled. The next events are scheduled for about 2 hours from now. The Breeze M upper stage will ignite for a 3rd time and burn for approximately 11 minutes; after that the additional propellant tank will be jettisoned, and the 4th burn will start. All this will happen in a span of almost 15 minutes while the vehicle is again out of range of a ground station. We should reacquire the vehicle shortly after the 4th burn ends.

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SIRIUS FM-5 Stage Separations

We had a successful liftoff about 15 minutes ago of our Proton Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the SIRIUS FM-5 satellite. The three stages of the Proton vehicle have performed as planned, and it is up to the Breeze M upper stage to complete the mission. The upper stage has begun its first burn, which is scheduled to last around 7 minutes.

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