Fitcheck Friday, Spring Fling and Easter

17 – 19 April: Fitcheck Friday, Spring Fling and Easter [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/IndoStar-II-ProtoStar-II-Blog/white-spring-squillsblog.jpg[/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]White Spring Squill[/i] After the daily coordination meeting, the Boeing team opened the SC container for inspection, and in parallel, the KhSC team continued mechanical checkouts of the Breeze M. The PLA also arrived with the Breeze M on 16 April, and while Boeing prepared for the fitcheck later in the afternoon, KhSC installed the PLA on the PLA stand. The fitcheck operations managed to keep some of the team members in H101 until 02h00 on 18 April, and also began the Boeing 24-hour work schedule. Things are getting busy, but not to worry, all managed to be well rested for the Spring Fling BBQ hosted by Boeing and ILS on 18 April evening. Sunday was a rare day in Baikonur, as most of the KhSC specialists enjoyed a day off for the Russian Orthodox Easter celebration. Stand alone operations and tests by KhSC on the Breeze M Upper Stage and Launch Vehicle are ongoing with nominal results. The Payload Fairing halves are being prepared for application of the mission and customer logos. Boeing will test and prepare the SC and ground support equipment for propellant loading, which will begin by the end of this upcoming week and the process of refurbishment of Launch Pad 39 from the previous launch is proceeding nominally. On a side note, with the temperature increase, we have started seeing more of the flora in Baikonur!

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SC and Breeze-M Arrival in Baikonur

16 April: SC and Breeze-M arrival in Baikonur [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/IndoStar-II-ProtoStar-II-Blog/spring-tulipblog.jpg[/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]Tulip[/i] KhSC and Boeing turned Yubileiny Airfield into the busy international airport we always knew it was. The Antonov carrying the SC arrived around 09h20 and the Breeze M and PLA Antonov arrived at 11h00 exactly. SC Antonov flight crew kept busy offloading the containers from the rear of the Antonov. This plane is so big it has a crane inside of it. Sea land containers were secured with the crane, then moved out of the plane and onto a truck. The truck then moved away from the plane and a forklift picked up the containers and slowly drove each of them over to the railcar. At the front of the plane, the crews spent nearly an hour building ramps that would allow the SC container to move down out of the plane and onto the flat platform. Once the SC container was removed from the Antonov and loaded onto the railcar, KhSC and Boeing worked to test and connect the thermal car to the container. All the talk about spring in Kazakhstan, and finally we see a tulip! (We called the SC container and thermal car the “tulip” (yellow flower and green stem) because it looked like a tulip) After a long day of offloading, the teams were able to enjoy a nice break and take the time to share mission pins and stickers with the local people. It is a tradition to put the sticker of your mission on the buses and vans, and pass as many items out to the locals as you can. The train arrived at 92A50 around 21h30, after leaving the airport at 16h30. Offloading operations kept the group busy until around 01h00 on Friday morning. On 17 April the Boeing team will open the SC container and inspect the IndoStar II / ProtoStar II SC. Then KhSC, RUAG and Boeing will prepare for the fitcheck that will happen later in the afternoon.

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Early and Main Team Arrivals

12 – 14 April: Early and Main Team Arrivals [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/IndoStar-II-ProtoStar-II-Blog/Welcome-Convoyblog.jpg[/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]The welcome convoy[/i] Arrivals from the United States had the pleasure to see snow still covering parts of Moscow; it does not “warm” up in Kazakhstan until around late May and early June. For the Boeing team it had been over a year since their last trip to Baikonur, and for the ILS launch Operations team, it felt like we had only been away for a week and one day… With our faces pressed against the charter windows staring out at the Kazakh Steppe, we were happy to be delivered into the arms of the Kazakhstan customs agents and see that beautiful Mercedes bus in working order. Arrival to the hotel seemed quick, followed by offloading of the luggage. As the bus pulled away, it began to sink in just how far away from home we are. And although we are almost disconnected from the world we know, there is comfort in knowing that we won’t have to deal with hassles like traffic, weather changes, airline baggage handling fees and expensive movie ticket prices for at least a month. Once settled into area 92A-50, a welcome convoy of locals decided to pay us a visit. Their stay was brief, but I’m sure we will see them again. As our arrival excitement died down we focused on the task at hand. Safety and security briefings and proper radio training tired most of the teams enough to squash the jetlag we all had coming, but with all the excitement of planning for the SC and Breeze M arrivals on 16 April how can anyone sleep?

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End of W2A 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. The rest are preparing for the IndoStar II/ ProtoStar II launch in May. Thanks to everyone who followed along with the blog. Please stay tuned because the next launch is already in preparation.

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W2A Mission Successful!

We have had a successful mission with the Proton M Breeze M rocket, carrying the W2A satellite built by Thales Alenia Space for Eutelsat Communications. We have had confirmation that the satellite separated from the vehicle on schedule around 9:35 pm Eastern Time, or 01:35 GMT, 9 hours and 10 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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W2A Second Burn Completion

As the Breeze M upper stage of our Proton M rocket continues its climb into space with the W2A 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 20 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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W2A First Burn Completion

We have received confirmation of completion of the first burn. The vehicle is now scheduled to be out of range for about an hour, after which we will hear confirmation of the second burn.

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W2A Stage Separations

We had a successful liftoff about 15 minutes ago of our Proton Breeze M rocket, which is carrying the W2A 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 4 minutes.

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Launcher Erected

[img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/W2A-Blog/erectionblog.jpg[/img] After the teams prepared the Ascent Unit and ground support equipment, KhSC began operations to transfer the signed and sealed AU to Hall 111 to be mated with the Launch Vehicle. After mating, final closeouts began of the newly formed Integrated Launch Vehicle. Once closeouts and systems checks completed successfully, the ILV was lifted onto the erector and moved by rail to the Breeze M fueling station where low pressure fuel and oxidizer loading was completed. At the end of the second day of loading, the State Commission met and authorized the rollout of the ILV to the launch pad. The teams gathered to witness the rollout of the ILV from the Breeze M fueling station to Launch Pad 39 at 06h45 on L-3. Approximately 3 hours later the team reassembled at the Pad to watch the erector lift the ILV into its new vertical position. The ILV was then moved to the MST where it will be tested and finalized for launch. Comprehensive systems testing is completing and the launch rehearsal has started. Preparation for launch activities will keep us busy until the Government Commission meeting concludes tonight with an authorization to launch.

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