Our Russian adventure: part 1

Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur cosmodrome
28 August 2007

Well this is it: we’re in the final stages. After over five years of talking, planning, building, testing and more testing we have arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome for the final phase of the YES2 adventure.

By “we”, I mean Marco, our Mission Analyst and Ground Support Engineer; Fabio, the Integration Manager; Michiel, our chief systems engineer from Delta Utec and Rafal, who will be helping us check the electrical systems.

I can tell you that getting to Baikonur is not the easiest task as it’s a pretty remote place. So, this journey comes in two parts: a flight from Amsterdam to Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, then a change to Moscow Domodedovo airport, where we board the plane to Baikonur, which is in Kazakhstan.

The Amsterdam flight took about five hours. After getting through passport control, we stayed the night in a hotel, because we couldn’t have made it to Domodedovo in time for our flight. The next day after a short car ride we got to Domodedovo and boarded the plane to Baikonur.

We’re all pretty nervous about the launch, but we’ve got enough time in our schedule to (hopefully) make sure everything is right with satellite and get prepared.

Baikonur Cosmodrome
Sunset over the launch pad at Baikonur

Now, I'm happy to report that week 1 has been a pretty solid success. By the end of the week, this is what managed to do:

25/8/07-27/8/07: We made minor changes to the YES2 flight configuration in preparation for launch.

28/8/07: We completed the minor hardware and software changes to the YES2 flight configuration we made and functional tests were fully successful; YES2 is now in its flight-ready state and has been installed on top of Foton-M3 for the last time.

29/8/07: The EGSE was connected to YES2 and Interface tests between YES2 and Foton-M3 were completed without any problems; all telecommands were received by YES2 and all YES2 telemetry was received by Foton.

30/8/07: Telemetry tests with Telesupport were completed successfully; all YES2 telemetry data was received by Telesupport system. This means that YES2 telemetry will be recorded during flight and downlinked to the Payload Operation Centre in Kiruna as alternative telemetry source.

The last word...

OK, so far, so good. We've still got a lot of prepartion to go through, but we're well on our way. As you can see life here on the launch campaign is very busy but also fun. There have been several sporting events against the Russian staff on the launch campaign, including a soccer match in Baikonur city, and a couple of volleyball matches, so we're enjoying ourselves, as well as working hard.

I'll update you with another Diary entry at the end of week 2, which should end with YES2 being primed for launch.

Thanks a lot, speak soon

Roger Walker

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