Jan. 25 marked a major milestone for the THOR 5 team. Orbital’s propellant team successfully completed loading the spacecraft with hydrazine fuel. This operation took the better part of the day and, because it was potentially hazardous, afforded another day of rest for most of the team. We all look forward to the successful completion of propellant loading operations, not just because it signifies the end of spacecraft standalone operations and a continuing positive progression of the launch campaign, but also because it means we get to throw a Post-Fueling Party. This feast occurred on Jan. 26. The few parties we have throughout the campaign are a great time for team members to relax, cut loose and bond in activities not directly related to the spacecraft or launch vehicle operations. As with any Russian get-together our party was not complete without a number of toasts made by KhSC, ILS and Orbital. Some team members decided to head out early, while the hardiest of us danced away into the night. [img]http://www.ilslaunch.com/assets/Images/Media/Thor-5/PLAmate2small.jpg[/img] Because standalone operations were at an end, we had no choice but to start joint operations on Jan. 28 with the mating of the THOR 5 Spacecraft to the KhSC payload adapter (or PLA). The PLA allows the spacecraft to rest comfortably on top of the Breeze M, which is the upper stage of the Proton M launch vehicle. The PLA also houses the Saab-built separation system, which will gently separate THOR 5 from the Breeze M when it reaches its destined geostationary orbit. Stay tuned for more updates regarding joint operations; including mating the SC/PLA assembly to the Breeze M, and the encapsulation of the whole structure into what we call the Ascent Unit or AU.

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