Our Russian adventure: part 5

An artist's impression of YES2 attached to Foton in orbit
21 September 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.

Well, it’s been a really eventful few days here. As you know, last Friday we witnessed the launch of YES2 together with the Foton-M3 on the Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch was a resounding success as we learned about 8 minutes after of the insertion of the Foton-M3 scientific module into a favourable orbit.

After we heard the news, we took a little time to celebrate the first success of the mission. The last few weeks had been really tense at times. Completing everything ahead of time and checking everything two or three times was really important, but it all hinged on a successful launch.

On the 25th September, the deployment of the YES2 tether will begin, so the last week has been really hectic with the preparations for that. We’ve had to move all our equipment and materials from the Cosmodrome to the Mission Control Centre at Korolyev in Moscow, where Marco has been preparing for the beginning of his role in the post launch operations.

Launch of Foton-M3 with YES2

He has been using the mission simulation software to calculate the accurate time tags to send to the Foton space craft for each stage of the YES2 deployment. Now that the Foton is in orbit, he has the necessary variables (data about the orbital parameters of YES2) to accurately calculate when to send the time tag instructions to Foton for YES2 to act upon.

One effect of Marco’s current activities is that he has now generated more accurate information on when the tether will be visible in the night sky during the deployment. Have a look at “Observe YES2” here on the web site to see the updated visibility information.

Well, we’ve got to get back to work, but join us here soon for the next instalment of our Russian adventure.


Roger Walker

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