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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