Precious Cargo on Board

Precious Cargo On Board: The train carrying the EchoStar XXI launch vehicle arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2:10 pm local time today in preparation for the integration of the launch vehicle with the satellite. This will be the 6th ILS mission for EchoStar utilizing Proton, the industry workhorse with 412 launches to date. 


“The Gang’s All Here”

27 November 2016
Spacecraft onsite? Check. Technical, Propulsion and ancillary teams in place? Check. And now the final star of our show has arrived—the much anticipated Launch Vehicle! After a very long and cold train ride thru Russia and Kazakhstan, our Launch Vehicle finally arrived at our processing facility in the early morning hours on November 27. While our teams continue technical works on the spacecraft, our Russian hosts will now begin their task of unloading the Launch Vehicle from the railcars and begin arduous preparations and testing to make sure it is air/space ready. With both “stars of the show” here we can continue to move forward and prepare for that very special event—launch day!


Unpacking and Spacecraft Container Opening

22 November 2016
After the long journey from Northern California to Baikonur, it is now time to unpack and open the spacecraft container so that the spacecraft can be set into place and processed. Although a bit complicated, it is an easy task for our team of highly qualified professionals. Ever so slightly, the container lid is lifted and there she is, waiting for the team to wake her from her long journey so that she can be prepared for her next, even longer flight for her proud owners—EchoStar. While this takes place, the rest of the team is unpacking and setting up offices and settling in to our new home for the next few weeks…


EchoStar XXI Offload

21 November 2016
As our bus pulled up to the airport, in the distance we all could see the Antonov coming in for a smooth landing. Watching the world’s largest cargo aircraft is always an amazing sight to see—huge but graceful! This offload was not only well organized and smooth, but also slightly faster than usual. The use of a new, more modern ramp system allowed for the air cargo team to assemble the ramp quicker, which is always nice when the team is outside in minus 12 °C weather! First the air/sea containers were offloaded and then the main reason we all came here for: the SSL spacecraft made its way down the new ramp and onto the rail car for the slow but steady journey to the processing facility where it will be unpacked, checked, powered up and fueled for the next stop—space!


EchoStar XXI Launch Team Arrival

19 November 2016
Well, the EchoStar XXI launch campaign has officially begun! This trip was a little faster to site as our flight was an Airbus A319 which not only provided more comfort for the team, but we arrived a few minutes earlier. The utilization of this aircraft was in part due to the changes and improvements to the local airport runway that can now handle this type of aircraft. The team arrived onsite, checked-in to our hotels and then off to the Arrival Briefing on safety and security at our new home away from home. From there, a delicious dinner was served and then off to bed as tomorrow begins what we all came for—to launch EchoStar XXI!



Spectacular sunrise, warm temperatures, slight breeze provided an outstanding start to the day as members of our team along with a multitude of Russian colleagues spanning multiple organizations (it takes a village to launch a rocket) watched in animated anticipation, awe and with a great deal of pride as the Intelsat 31 SC cocooned in the mighty Proton Rocket rolled out from the Breeze-M fueling station at 0630 today bound for Launch Pad 24.


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