Successful Mission!

We are happy to announce the successful conclusion of another launch mission! The Proton M Breeze M rocket has carried to geostationary transfer orbit the Ciel II satellite, built by ThalesAlenia Space for the Ciel Satellite Group. Spacecraft separation occurred on schedule, at 17:55 EST. Total launch time was 9 hours, 12 minutes.

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Down to the last burn

The Breeze M has completed its 3rd and 4th burns, and the additional propellant fuel tank has been jettisoned. The vehicle is now in a five-hour coasting period. The 5th, and final, burn will occur at the end of this period. The 5th burn will last about 7 minutes, and about 15 minutes after that we will have separation of the Ciel II spacecraft. We’ll let you know the mission is complete the moment we have confirmation.

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2nd Burn

The Breeze M’s second burn has been completed successfully. The third burn will start in about two hours. Once the third burn concludes, the Breeze M will shutdown and jettison the additional propellant tank. Moments later, the Breeze M’s 4th burn will begin. We’ll confirm completion of the 4th burn as soon as we have official word.

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Launch Highlight Video Clips

Video clips of the launch are now posted in Real Video and Windows Media Player formats. You can find them [url=http://www.ilslaunch.com/ciel-II-launch-highlights/]here[/url]!

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Breeze M completes 1st burn

We have confirmed completion of the Breeze M’s first burn. The second burn should commence in about 54 minutes and will fire for just under 18 minutes. This will happen while the Orbital Unit is out of range of a receiving station, so we’ll be back when we have reacquired the vehicle and confirmed that the second burn has been completed.

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1st Burn Firing

The first-, second-, and third-stage separations of the Proton M vehicle have been completed. Now it’s up to the Breeze M upper stage to take over, and the vehicle has just begun its first burn. We’ll announce completion of the burn as soon as we have confirmation.

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Liftoff!

We have liftoff of the Ciel II satellite, powered by the Proton M Breeze M rocket. During the first 10 minutes of this 9-hour, 12-minute mission, the three stages of the Proton M vehicle will ignite and separate in turn. This will be followed by the first burn of the Breeze M upper stage. That should happen in about 11 minutes. We’ll be back with an update then.

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Rollout to Launch Pad/Verticalization, L-4 Days and Counting …

[img]/assets/Images/Media/Ciel-2-Blog/Arriving-at-the-Pad.JPG[/img] Another early start to another day of the campaign, and it’s back to our work clothes from playing dress-up. After receiving the okay to roll to the pad, it is time to send the integrated launch vehicle (ILV) on its trip to Launch Pad 39.  The train was hooked up early Sunday morning. Once we reached the traditional 6:30 a.m. (local) departure time, the convoy was off on its two and a half hour journey.  With the train and ILV on its trip, the team headed back to the hotel for a hearty breakfast.  The rather uneventful train trip out to the pad could be watched from various points around Area 95. After breakfast, the team piled into the bus and headed out to the launch pad.  Everyone who wanted to attend was permitted to go on the pad deck to watch the incredible sight, as the assembled ILV rolled horizontally into position next to the flame bucket. Then it was hydraulically rotated to its vertical launch position. The Russian videographers and photographers at this milestone event took many pictures and interviewed the program directors of Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, ThalesAlenia Space, and International Launch Services.  The one common denominator of all the interviews: This entire campaign has been a TEAM effort on everybody’s part. It has been a top-notch team working together from every aspect. From spacecraft offload, to standalone operations, to joint operations: Everything to date has performed right on schedule. It is, as they say, a truly well-oiled machine The anticipation continues to build as we move from the daily schedule to what is referred to as the 7/701 script. This is the official countdown schedule that will bring us to launch day!

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Rollout Commission Meeting, L-5 Days to Launch

Breeze M fuel loading was completed right on schedule late Saturday afternoon. As we like to say after every important milestone, “Everything was nominal!” Considering the hazardous nature of the load operations, “nominal” is the RIGHT answer! Time to send the integrated launch vehicle (ILV) on its final journey prior to launch: transport to Launch Pad 39. Before that can happen, all parties involved in the campaign must get together for the Rollout Commission Meeting. This is a gathering of the heads of the myriad organizations involved in launching Ciel II. They gather for an official signing of a certificate stating that everything is go for transport to the pad and that pad operations can commence. Everyone from the spacecraft contractors to the local representatives of the electric company gave their “thumbs up” on the upcoming transport.  It is also an evening to put away the typical “working uniform” of jeans and sneakers to dress up and look good in jackets and ties. It was almost hard to recognize the participants!

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L-1

[img]/assets/Images/Media/Ciel-2-Blog/On-the-Pad.JPG[/img] The final launch countdown rehearsal went smoothly, and we are no longer tracking the upcoming launch by days. With the passing of 9:30am Sunday local Baikonur time, the 7/701 script is now running by hours. All thoughts are focused south to Launch Pad 39 and the integrated launch vehicle (ILV). One of the many traditions that our Russian partners have is the blessing of the ILV. Built into the script is a visit from one of the local Russian Orthodox priests to give his blessings and douse team members and the ILV with holy water in preparation for the upcoming launch. It is a very solemn Russian rite of passage for all of their launch vehicles, and no one is about to break from tradition at this point in the campaign, regardless of how cold the weather may be.  For those participating in the blessing for the first time, it’s quite an eye opener! Final checks and balances are being performed. At 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, 10 December Baikonur local time, there will be one final meeting with the State Commission. At this gathering, all parties will agree that the ILV is ready for fuel loading. Now the only thing we will wait to hear from all parties: The spacecraft and the ILV are “GO FOR LAUNCH!!!”

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For the latest news and information, or if you have a question, please email ILS at contactus@ilslaunch.com