What a Weekend

The ILS launch team has settled in at Baikonur. Team members report that they celebrated Independence Day by reading Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence on the way to Yubileiny Airport at 0800 to offload the satellite test equipment, and then working until 1830. They had a picnic the following day to commemorate the holiday. Meanwhile, the spacecraft has landed! Early Sunday morning the Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite arrived at Yubileiny Airport aboard an AN-124-100 Ruslan aircraft owned by Russia’s Polyet cargo airlines. The satellite was taken to Building 92A-50 for assembly and testing. Everything else is going up to par, as well. Pictures soon, as well as some first-hand reports from the launch team…

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Welcome to the Inmarsat-4 F3 Blog

Welcome to the third ILS Proton launch campaign for 2008 – the launch of the EADS Astrium-built Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite for Inmarsat of London. Follow along with the launch team as they prepare for the mid-August mission.

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ILS Reception

ILS held a well-attended reception Monday night for customers at the DAR Constitution Hall. About 75-80 guests were there to enjoy the food and camaraderie. They also had the opportunity to tour the historic location, as well as enjoy the beautiful view of the Washington monument nearby.
[img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/Satellite-08-BLOG/recptpic1.jpg[/img]

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Panel discussions

Frank McKenna, president of International Launch Services (ILS), took part in a very full panel Tuesday on “Launch Services: Pressure to Perform.” It also included his counterparts from several other launch providers, as well as satellite operators SES and Intelsat, and satellite manufacturers Orbital and Lockheed Martin. All were asked, “What is the most significant problem facing the industry today?”
Frank’s opinion: there must be a focus on performance. He cited the recent accomplishment of 6 successful Proton launches in less than 4 months. He noted that the launch business requires significant investment in infrastructure, and said the challenge is how to maintain a financially viable launch industry.

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ILS Booth

The booth is a great success with lots of visitors. Stop by for a latte or espresso at our little café, inside the booth.
[img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/Satellite-08-BLOG/boothpic3.jpg[/img]

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And it begins…

It’s here! The biggest satellite industry trade show of the year. This afternoon we had our ceremony for the signing of the Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. (Yahsat) contract. Even though the contract was formally signed at the end of 2007, we decided to celebrate it this week since all parties were going to be in town for the show.

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We have Liftoff!

The ILS Team is proud to announce the successful liftoff of the Proton Breeze M carrying the THOR 5 satellite! Liftoff occurred at 6:34 a.m. EST (5:34 p.m. Baikonur, 11:34 GMT). Proton’s three stages, including payload fairing jettison, have performed flawlessly. The Breeze M upper stage has completed the first of its four burns and is presently in a circular parking orbit. We’ll update this blog and the hotline when we receive confirmation of the Breeze M second burn. That should be in about an hour. [url=http://streamvox.streamos.com/vyvx/ils021008/]Full 45-minute launch broadcast[/url] [url=http://www.ilslaunch.com/ils/thor-cbl.wmv]Click to view launch video clip[/url] [url=http://www.ilslaunch.com/ils/news-020508/]Media Advisory[/url]

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Launcher in place

Yesterday the Proton M launch vehicle was transported from our processing facility to Launch Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It began its trip to the pad at exactly 6:30 a.m., which is a Russian tradition because it corresponds to the time the vehicle for Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, rolled out to the pad. Most of the team traveled to the pad a few hours after the transportation of the ILV began. We arrived just in time to witness the Russian specialists undertake the monumental task of erecting this huge rocket. Of course, we were not going to miss our chance to take a team photo in front of such an impressive sight. The Orbital, Telenor, ILS and KhSC teams are now completing final closeouts and checks, as well as rehearsing for Sunday’s long-awaited launch of the Proton M/Breeze M and THOR 5. [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/Thor-5-BLOG/DSC0064small.jpg[/img]

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Fairing well

Since the last update to this blog our team has been extremely busy, as we are growing ever closer to Sunday’s launch of THOR 5. After the spacecraft was mated to the payload adapter (PLA) the Breeze M was moved into position on the tilter stand. Shortly after this occurred, the SC/PLA assembly was moved on top of the Breeze M upper stage, attached, and the whole assembly was tilted from a vertical to a horizontal position. After some testing by Orbital the now-horizontal orbital unit was ready to be encapsulated by the payload fairing. The bottom half was first slid under the orbital unit. Once it was in place the top half of the fairing was gently and expertly picked up off the ground, moved and then placed on top of the unit. This operation was undertaken by not one, but two, Khrunichev (KhSC) crane operators working in tandem with two cranes. After both halves of the fairing were in place KhSC specialists began the process of attaching them to the Breeze M, as well as applying Telenor, Orbital and ILS logos to the fairing. Shortly after they were applied most of the team climbed up a ladder to the logos and left their mark. Some team members signed their names on the logos, while others left wishes for a good flight and an inside joke or two (not to mention a cheer of “Go Giants!”) [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/Thor-5/028-Gumby2small.jpg[/img] The full assembly of the spacecraft, adapter, Breeze M and fairing is known as the Ascent Unit (AU). With the AU now fully assembled it was ready to be detached from the tilter stand, and lifted (again by tandem Russian crane operators) onto a railcar. The railcar transported the AU out of Processing Hall 101 and moved it to the other side of the building to Hall 111. This hall is where our Proton M rocket has been residing and has undergone testing and preparations for the past many weeks. Shortly after the AU arrived in Hall 111 KhSC began the process of mating it to the Proton M launch vehicle. After this mating of the launch vehicle and AU, we refer to the now nearly complete Proton M as the Integrated Launch Vehicle (ILV). The ILV spent a couple of days inside Hall 111 as closeout operations were being performed and as Orbital conducted some electrical tests to make sure that they could communicate with their spacecraft through the Proton launch vehicle. The ILV is now reaching the final stages of preparations for launch. Yesterday it was moved from Hall 111 to the nearby Breeze M fueling station, where it was to spend two days in order for the Breeze M to be loaded with fuel and oxidizer. As mentioned in a previous post, these fueling days allow most of the team to get some rest. A day off usually means a trip into town, this time was no exception. Yesterday brought a special treat with it in the form of the launch of a Soyuz launch vehicle carrying supplies to the International Space Station. Many of our team were able to witness this successful launch. Tomorrow we will be getting ready to watch our Proton M rocket roll via railcar from the Breeze M fueling station to the launch pad. At around 9:30 a.m. we will all be there to watch it being erected on the pad, and of course we will have our cameras ready for this amazing photo op.

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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