Our Russian adventure: part 3
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.
Hello all! We are ready for launch!
The last days have seen us doing the last close-out and arming operations on the spacecraft. The latest file with the flight parameters has been uploaded and all the arming connectors have been plugged.
These arming connectors are especially important, as they activate the system and arm all the system pyrocutters, allowing the ejection of MASS and Fotino from FLOYD and the Fotino parachute deployment to take place.
While writing, the system is already active and waiting to go to space. It means that MASS and Fotino, both powered by batteries, are in stand-by mode waiting for the signals to turn on to accomplish their part of the mission. This signal will arrive from FLOYD in the case of MASS and from two wires cut during the re-entry for Fotino.
The arming moment has been very exciting. Due to a crew change we've just been left by Michiel and Rafal, who returned back to Europe, and Roger was to arrive few hours after the arming operations, with a charter flight from Rotterdam. We also had to do some additional work with the Russians to ensure that the Multi Layer Insulation (MLI) covered all of the connectors to the on-board computer –just to keep it warm during flight.
YES2 is now really ready for flight. I wish all the students and the people who worked with us in the past years could see it personally. It is a great emotion to see the work of so many ready to lift-off, and it comes natural to really thank all of them for their great job.
The Foton-M3 biological experiments have been prepared and loaded after which the Foton-M3 capsule was sealed. We were also lucky enough to see the mating with the Soyuz rocket: first the Foton-M3 spacecraft was placed in the fairing which will cover it during the ascent through the atmosphere, then the fairing was put horizontal and mated to the rocket, which was already ready, lying on a train inside the Integration Hall.
Now the adventure begins...
Yesterday, the Soyuz rocket, with Foton-M3 (and YES2) finally mounted on top, was then slowly but surely transported to the Gagarin Launch pad on the train. It’s a train trip which takes some hours. Finally it arrived at the launch pad and rotated to the vertical position.
Until this point the rocket is empty, without any fuel. Only now the fuelling starts. In few hours everything is prepared and the rocket is ready to go. At 13:00 CEST the rocket will finally turn on its engines and lift-off to space. Then the adventure will begin!
Until next time!
Fabio De Pascale