Baikonur….we have an E9B SC! SC arrival is a momentous launch campaign milestone, one that truly gets our launch campaign revved up and into full swing.
Per normal process, the teams held our off-load meeting two days prior to SC arrival to ensure that all personnel had a clear vision of how our operations would run on the day. The only thing left to chance was the weather which as we all know is beyond our control. With Baikonur now in the winter season, many on the team would have put their thoughts out to the universe for off-load day weather to be calm, sunny, cold but not arctic, no wind and definitely no rain.
The stars aligned and Mother Nature was on point! While we awoke to a rather grey, dreary, slightly damp day (it has been raining every day for the last week) and cloudy day, by the time we arrived at Yubileiny Airfield, the team were treated to perfect off-load weather. It was rather balmy with +2°C – +4°C (28° – 38°F), sun peeking out from the clouds, no wind and no rain.
Typically, we have an early start to the day, but due to late confirmation of the flight manifest, the team had to adapt and overcome. We did so with aplomb, the team off-loaded the SC and multiple pieces of GSE (ground support equipment) with precision timing, efficiency, stellar communications and a fastidiousness of multiple operations that has taken years of working together to perfect. It was like watching a finally tuned orchestra performing on opening night.
The sun did disappear over the horizon, the lights on the airfield lit up on and shone down on the railroad track/work area, the miner headlights were donned for the precise lightening needs where the flood lights didn’t reach, the hats, gloves, scarfs put on to keep the team warm and remain working at a good clip to close out the final operations. You have a major sense of accomplishment when the train does it “toot-toot” and finally starts pulling away towards 92A50.
All this effort, team work (including a five hour train journey), we were rewarded with the fact/knowledge that the E9B SC and GSE are now safe and sound in H101 and respective offices, control rooms at the 92A50 processing facility.