[img]/assets/Images/Media/Ciel-2-Blog/Mated.JPG[/img] Yahoo! Stand-alone testing is complete.  We have started the next phase known as Joint Operations.  This is when the SC is mechanically and electrically mated to the Launch Vehicle hardware.  To put it simply, this is when we start making the little pieces into one big piece! Joint Operations involves a lot of hard yards (man hours) being put in by a plethora of people.  The first step was to mate the SC to the adapter system – a conical structure that attaches to the bottom of the SC. Next, the SC-adapter combo was mated to the Breeze M upper stage. We successfully completed these steps today after about 18 hours of work, taking into account all the testing and mechanical and electrical checks that had to occur.  Today at 1600 hours, the SC-adapter-Breeze M stack will be rotated from vertical to horizontal and encapsulated in the payload fairing. The combination of all these pieces into a single unit is known as the Ascent Unit (AU). The SC will remain in a horizontal orientation until we move the whole launch vehicle to launch pad four days before launch. The first order of business and required for encapsulation is the need to have the SC in a horizontal position. This is one of the more jaw-dropping operations to witness. The newly mated Breeze M engine, PLA and satellite fully loaded with propellant are mounted to a turnover fixture (aka the tilter). That is a whole lot of inches and a whole lot of pounds, supported only by the clampband (a thin metal ring that joins the SC to the PLA).  The entire structure is rotated from vertical to horizontal in order to install the payload fairing.  It can be quite nerve-wracking during these 30 minutes. However, the method once again proved to be successful. The Breeze M, the payload adapter and the flight hardware moved to horizontal just as they were designed. It really is a spectacular sight to see.

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