Third and 4th Burns Completed

The Breeze M has successfully completed its 3rd and 4th burns. The additional propellant fuel tank was successfully jettisoned as well. The vehicle is in a five-hour coasting period. A 5th and final burn will occur at the end of that period, with separation of the Astra 1M spacecraft expected about 12 minutes after the 5th burn. We’ll be back to report on that event as soon as we have confirmation.

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We Have Liftoff

We have liftoff of the Proton M Breeze M rocket and the Astra 1M satellite! The first burn should ignite in about 11 minutes and will last just under eight minutes. Stay tuned for further updates.

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Second Burn in The Books!

We have just received confirmation of the completion of Breeze M’s second burn. Next up, in about two hours, the Breeze M will burn for a 3rd time, for about 10 minutes. Then it will shutdown and jettison the additional propellant tank. After jettisoning the tank, a 4th burn will begin. We will post an update when we get confirmation of the completion of the fourth burn.

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Separations and 1st Burn

The Proton M vehicle has successfully carried out its first-, second- and third-stage separations. The mission is now handed off to the Breeze M upper stage, which has just begun its first burn. We’ll announce completion of that burn as soon as we have confirmation.

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New home on pad 39

[img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/ASTRA-1M-Blog/pad-arrival.JPG[/img] Yesterday was a long and exciting day here in Baikonur. After receiving the OK last night from the State Commission it was time to send the ILV on its trip to Launch Pad 39. As we learned at the Gagarin Museum, it is a Russian tradition for the locomotive to start its journey at 6:30 a.m. local time. Not wanting to break with tradition, we were all out to see the convoy off at 6:30 a.m. for the 2-1/2 hour journey to its new home on pad 39. At about 9 a. m. everyone who wanted to attend was permitted on the pad deck to watch the incredible sight as the assembled ILV rolled horizontally into position. Then the ILV was hydraulically rotated to its vertical launch position. This process is called the tilting or the erection. Talk about a photo opportunity! The anticipation continues to build as we started to what is referred to as the 7/701 script. This is the official countdown schedule that will bring us to launch day.

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Putting it all together!

[img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/ASTRA-1M-Blog/2-the-signing.jpg[/img] As we get closer to our launch date, the number of activities is increasing… One of the more “technical” operations that we have to perform is to sign the payload fairing. The biggest decision is what to write and who to dedicate the launch to: parents, children and loved ones… all of the names are on the fairing as a tribute from the launch team members. When signing festivities were complete, the rail transporter was positioned in Hall 101 so the Ascent Unit could be lifted from the tilter and positioned over the transporter. The transporter is a locomotive car designed to support the AU on its journey to Hall 111. This is the hall that houses the complete Proton Breeze M rocket, which will take the ASTRA 1M satellite into orbit. Very little time was wasted before the AU was mated to the launch vehicle (LV). With the AU on its rail dolly, the Khrunichev specialists hand- cranked the unit and aligned it with the LV. Mating operations were performed and there were no anomalies. It was finally one complete unit, known as the Integrated Launch Vehicle (ILV). Needless to say, there was a lot of excitement as everyone saw all of the pieces together for the first time. All of the teams are now wrapping up preparations for the final leg of a long journey. Tomorrow we are off to the Breeze M fueling station and then to Launch Pad!

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Saying Goodbye to the SC

It has been a very busy few days here in Baikonur. After a successful mating of the SC to the Breeze M, it was time to say goodbye to the SC, at least, visually. As the SC hovered horizontally above the rail track, the bottom half of the fairing was situated on a rail car below. Sitting in its cradle, the lower half of the fairing was hand cranked into position under the SC. Then the upper half was hoisted up by crane, positioned above the SC and lowered to mate with the bottom half. Under the watchful eyes of the Astrium and KhSC teams, the maneuvers were successfully executed and the Astra 1M SC was officially encapsulated in preparation for its ride into orbit. This newly assembled configuration is called the ascent unit (AU). Now that the two halves are secured, the team will spend the next couple of days performing electrical tests and verifying that, although encapsulated, it is still possible to communicate with the SC. Soon it will be time to mate the AU to the Proton launch vehicle!

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