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][/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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