SC loading, Breeze M returns

25-27 April, SC loading, Breeze-M returns [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]SCAPE[/i] The Breeze M was transported back to 92A-50, with the high pressure tanks loaded. It was installed in the universal stand and will go through umbilical connector hookups and testing prior to mating with the SC/PLA. Standalone operations are scheduled to end today, and tomorrow will begin Joint Operations with the PLA/SC mating.


Consent to Fuel, BBQ, Breeze-M Fueling

23-24 April: Consent to Fuel, BBQ, Breeze-M Fueling [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]Grill Work[/i] Boeing received the authorization to fuel the IndoStar II/ ProtoStar II SC and continued with finalizations of the equipment, SC and fueling crew. KhSC sealed the cable pass-throughs in between the Control Room and h103A. Highly skilled engineers managed to seal both sides in under 20 minutes, but that was not the most impressive skill. These guys were crouched down on the floor with their feet flat. You should try it, it’s not easy. So with the consent to fuel, ILS and the customer sponsored a BBQ at the Fili Hotel. We enjoyed a wide variety of vegetables, we saw avocado in one of the salads, and meats that came all the way from Brazil. We didn’t have to look far to find volunteer cooks, and just like surgeons, the man in charge plugs in his mp3 player and controls the tone. After 3 hours of latin smooth jazz, we all learned to salsa. While we were celebrating cultures at the Fili, the Breeze M was transported to Area 31 for high pressure loading. Two days of loading and the Breeze M will be transported back to 92A-50 and prepped for mating with the SC and PLA.


Stand Alone Ops & Table Tennis Tourney

20-22 April, Stand Alone Ops & Table Tennis Tourney [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]Russia Versus USA [/i] The dust has settled on what some have called the greatest table tennis tournament of any launch complex in Baikonur. Where fortunes are won and lost. I’m exaggerating of course, but you get the idea. This was a chance for contenders to prove their mental and physical strength against the best and the worst; where the excuses stopped and the paddles did all the talking. It was a clean sweep; Russia celebrated an early victory, eliminating the contestants representing the USA all within the first round. The next hour the Russian challengers worked meticulously to weaken their competition. By the end, there could be only one. After the tournament the winner was kind enough to share his edible chocolate prize with all of the participants. Nothing beats eating through emotions, it was delicious. (see [url=]photo gallery[/url] for image of prize) On an operational side, after the Fitcheck, Boeing moved the Spacecraft back onto the cart, rolled back into H103A and then onto the Fuel Stand, and had a battery charge. The propulsion team has spent the days working to prepare the facility and themselves for Oxidizer and Fuel loading. KhSC has spent the time running electrical tests on the Launch Vehicle and preparing the Upper Stage Breeze M for their high pressure fueling.


Early and Main Team Arrivals

12 – 14 April: Early and Main Team Arrivals [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]The welcome convoy[/i] Arrivals from the United States had the pleasure to see snow still covering parts of Moscow; it does not “warm” up in Kazakhstan until around late May and early June. For the Boeing team it had been over a year since their last trip to Baikonur, and for the ILS launch Operations team, it felt like we had only been away for a week and one day… With our faces pressed against the charter windows staring out at the Kazakh Steppe, we were happy to be delivered into the arms of the Kazakhstan customs agents and see that beautiful Mercedes bus in working order. Arrival to the hotel seemed quick, followed by offloading of the luggage. As the bus pulled away, it began to sink in just how far away from home we are. And although we are almost disconnected from the world we know, there is comfort in knowing that we won’t have to deal with hassles like traffic, weather changes, airline baggage handling fees and expensive movie ticket prices for at least a month. Once settled into area 92A-50, a welcome convoy of locals decided to pay us a visit. Their stay was brief, but I’m sure we will see them again. As our arrival excitement died down we focused on the task at hand. Safety and security briefings and proper radio training tired most of the teams enough to squash the jetlag we all had coming, but with all the excitement of planning for the SC and Breeze M arrivals on 16 April how can anyone sleep?


Fitcheck Friday, Spring Fling and Easter

17 – 19 April: Fitcheck Friday, Spring Fling and Easter [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]White Spring Squill[/i] After the daily coordination meeting, the Boeing team opened the SC container for inspection, and in parallel, the KhSC team continued mechanical checkouts of the Breeze M. The PLA also arrived with the Breeze M on 16 April, and while Boeing prepared for the fitcheck later in the afternoon, KhSC installed the PLA on the PLA stand. The fitcheck operations managed to keep some of the team members in H101 until 02h00 on 18 April, and also began the Boeing 24-hour work schedule. Things are getting busy, but not to worry, all managed to be well rested for the Spring Fling BBQ hosted by Boeing and ILS on 18 April evening. Sunday was a rare day in Baikonur, as most of the KhSC specialists enjoyed a day off for the Russian Orthodox Easter celebration. Stand alone operations and tests by KhSC on the Breeze M Upper Stage and Launch Vehicle are ongoing with nominal results. The Payload Fairing halves are being prepared for application of the mission and customer logos. Boeing will test and prepare the SC and ground support equipment for propellant loading, which will begin by the end of this upcoming week and the process of refurbishment of Launch Pad 39 from the previous launch is proceeding nominally. On a side note, with the temperature increase, we have started seeing more of the flora in Baikonur!


SC and Breeze-M Arrival in Baikonur

16 April: SC and Breeze-M arrival in Baikonur [img][/img] [b]Photo:[/b] [i]Tulip[/i] KhSC and Boeing turned Yubileiny Airfield into the busy international airport we always knew it was. The Antonov carrying the SC arrived around 09h20 and the Breeze M and PLA Antonov arrived at 11h00 exactly. SC Antonov flight crew kept busy offloading the containers from the rear of the Antonov. This plane is so big it has a crane inside of it. Sea land containers were secured with the crane, then moved out of the plane and onto a truck. The truck then moved away from the plane and a forklift picked up the containers and slowly drove each of them over to the railcar. At the front of the plane, the crews spent nearly an hour building ramps that would allow the SC container to move down out of the plane and onto the flat platform. Once the SC container was removed from the Antonov and loaded onto the railcar, KhSC and Boeing worked to test and connect the thermal car to the container. All the talk about spring in Kazakhstan, and finally we see a tulip! (We called the SC container and thermal car the “tulip” (yellow flower and green stem) because it looked like a tulip) After a long day of offloading, the teams were able to enjoy a nice break and take the time to share mission pins and stickers with the local people. It is a tradition to put the sticker of your mission on the buses and vans, and pass as many items out to the locals as you can. The train arrived at 92A50 around 21h30, after leaving the airport at 16h30. Offloading operations kept the group busy until around 01h00 on Friday morning. On 17 April the Boeing team will open the SC container and inspect the IndoStar II / ProtoStar II SC. Then KhSC, RUAG and Boeing will prepare for the fitcheck that will happen later in the afternoon.


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