[b]SC/GSE Arrival[/b] What a day!!! The AsiaSat 5 spacecraft (SC) arrived safely from Palo Alto. We had planned on a 12:00 PM arrival time, but were extremely pleased to have the plane land 45 minutes early. Touch down at 11:15 AM. After clearing customs, the team went into high gear operation mode to remove the SC container and support equipment from the airplane. Unlike most typical off-loads which have the SC container being removed from the front of the airplane, the AsiaSat 5 SC was offloaded from the rear of the plane. With highly orchestrated precision, the collective teams unloaded the airplane and had the SC and additional equipment secured to the train in a record three hours. The SC train consists of a locomotive, a car which holds the passengers (affectionately known as the “Doghouse”), a gage car, flatbeds with the SC equipment, a thermal rail car supplying conditioned air to the SC, and finally the SC itself mounted to a flatbed rail car. The gage car is interesting to note because it is an outline of the SC container. If this gage car happens to hit anything along the way, we would immediately stop because this means that the SC container would also hit if we kept moving. We always pre-verify the track with the gage car months before the SC arrives (to ensure compatibility), the day before arrival, and the day of arrival so we are triply sure that nothing will go awry! After a five-hour trip from the airstrip to the arrival at the processing facility, the SC container and the associated equipment were offloaded and moved into the various areas of the facility in which they will be needed. Next step: Unpacking the SC and performing a fitcheck. [b]Unpack and Fitcheck[/b] On the afternoon of July 10, the SC in its container made its way on the train from the airport to the processing facility, referred to as 92A-50. The main room of this building, known as Hall 101, is absolutely huge – more than large enough to accommodate all the train cars containing the SC and support equipment with room to spare for a basketball game if so inclined! The SC container was off-loaded at 21:00 and placed on the floor of the hall, and all the associated equipment was placed in the areas needed to support the unpacking and testing of the SC. This entire operation was finished by 22:45 on July 10 â€“ making for a very long 12 hour day. The SC is well protected within the container, so we left it there overnight. Early the next morning, the riggers came in and started the process of removing the SC from its container. This entails removing the lid, rotating the SC from horizontal to vertical, and using the crane to lift it off its supports. While this was going on, the Khrunichev specialists were preparing the adapter system on its stand in Hall 101 for a fitcheck. To ensure that there are no problems with the mechanical interface of the SC with the adapter and electrical cabling, we perform this short fitcheck before the SC processing and fueling hall, known as Hall 103A. After a successful fitcheck, the SC was moved to a portable dolly and rolled into Hall 103A – its home for the next 14 days. Next step – SC stand alone testing and propellant load preparations! [b]Fili BBQ[/b] After putting in the hard yards over the last few days, SS Loral put on the first official BBQ of the campaign. We gathered the troops and fired up the grill: tri-tip and ribs with accompanying side dishes and topping it off with the famous Baikonur Honeycake for dessert. We never really know how many expert grillers we have on our campaign until the Pinkerton and SS Loral personnel share their proven grilling methods. We discovered that there is no language barrier when it comes to grilling. The weather was perfect for our informal courtyard gathering at Baikonur’s Fili Hotel. ILS, SS Loral, Khrunichev, AsiaSat, Pinkertons and our staff from Altek spent an enjoyable evening relaxing, dining and anticipating the upcoming spacecraft operations. Short of having this BBQ by the side of a pool, it felt like home.
13 Jul 2009