Our Russian adventure: part 2
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.
After the week 1 in Baikonur, we all felt pretty pleased about the success of our activities. As I mentioned in my previous diary we
- completed the minor hardware and software changes to the YES2 flight configuration and functional tests were fully successful, we installed YES2 on top of Foton-M3 for the last time.
- The EGSE was connected to YES2 and Interface tests between YES2 and Foton-M3 were completed without any problems.
- Telemetry tests with Telesupport were completed successfully; all YES2 telemetry data was received by Telesupport system.
I’ve been at ESTEC in Noordwijk for the last week, but I’ve been in constant contact with Marco and Fabio at the Integration hall in Baikonur. They’ve spent the second week preparing, with Michiel, the data file for the Tether Control Software, which will be uploaded to the YES2 on-board computer next week. This has taken them about four days, which might sound surprising to you, but not to me.
The purpose of the data file is to allow the Tether Control Software to follow the reference profile for the tether deployment during the flight. The control software on board YES2 uses certain parameters to ensure that the tether deployment is controlled to follow the reference profile as closely as possible. Optimum values for these control parameters need to be calculated, based on mission simulations, tether properties, orbit, and optimisation techniques. Complex stuff!
Now, as you can see, this little file is actually a mission critical aspect. If the boys get it wrong there could be errors in the release of the Fotino capsule, which means the Fotino could basically miss the desired landing location. Not good. It just goes to show that even with a student satellite project, the care and attention you have to have and the level of detail you work to are critical, right up to the end.
It’s not all been work, work, work though: the team in Baikonur were lucky enough to see the launch of a Proton rocket yesterday. It was carrying a Japanese satellite into geostationary orbit. Fabio said it was an incredible experience and we all can’t believe that in a little over a week, that’ll be us.
The last word...
I’ll be back in Baikonur next week for the final week of preparations and to witness the launch at close quarters. Then we'll all go to the Mission Control Centre in Moscow until the tether deployment and the re-entry is complete. Hope you’ll be here to see how we get on.