Removal of Proba-2 protective covers
Enabling & Support

Entry 18: Encapsulated, Proba-2 vanishes from view forever

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Engineering & Technology / Proba Missions

Monday 19 October – Proba-2 comes one step closer to space, and the launch team see it for the final time, as the miniature satellite is encapsulated by the SMOS adapter system and the full-sized satellite attached to it.

The day’s activities begin with the removal of the remaining protective covers, such as the three soft covers over Proba-2’s star trackers and the star tracker experiment being carried out on behalf of the BepiColombo mission, as well as the hard covers above the satellite’s three solar panels. This is the last mechanical activity to be carried out on the spacecraft by the Verhaert Design & Development team.

Proba-2 Certification of Readiness for Encapsulation
Proba-2 Certification of Readiness for Encapsulation

After a final inspection of Proba-2 to formally check that all protective covers have now been safely removed the satellite is certified as ready for encapsulation.

 

At the same time a customised SMOS lifting device is being prepared to pick up the SMOS satellite and its adapter system. For the Verhaert team this is a breathtaking moment – they are about to lose sight of ‘their’ Proba-2 forever.

SMOS and its adapter mated on Breeze encapsulating Proba-2
SMOS and its adapter mated on Breeze encapsulating Proba-2

The Russian launcher authorities take over the hoisting operation and everyone finds themselves wondering whether the height of the crane will be able to provide sufficient clearance to lift the SMOS ‘stack’ above Proba-2 on the Breeze-KM upper stage.

In the end the authorities manage the operation in a perfect manner, being carefully guided by a set of dedicated alignment rods. While SMOS and its adapter are lowered onto Proba-2 the team concentrate on the steadily shrinking clearance between the two. Centimetre by centimetre the team witness their small satellite disappearing until it is entirely encapsulated within its new habitat.

This marks a very emotional moment for the team: they are letting go of their ‘baby’ after more than five years of work on the project, except for a tiny electrical umbilical which allows them to perform ongoing electrical monitoring of the satellite’s health.

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Proba-2, final checks
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Entry 1: Belgium says goodbye to Proba-2

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Entry 2: Proba-2's journey to Plesetsk

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Transport of Proba-2 container to the MIK
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Entry 3: Unpacking after the trip

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Opening of the Proba-2 satellite container in the cleanroom
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Entry 4: Proba-2 unloaded and ready for inspection

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Hoisting of satellite from its container and assembly of integration dolly
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Entry 5: Proba-2 powered up

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Inspection of Proba-2 internal compartments
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Entry 6: End-to-end testing

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Filling of the propulsion tank with xeon
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Mounting of the first deployable solar panel
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Entry 8: Proba-2 gains a solar panel

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Mounting of solar panel
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Entry 9: Proba-2 gains its second ‘wing’

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Proba-2 with solar panels mounted
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Entry 10: Completing Proba-2

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Proba-2 final full functional test
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Entry 11: Putting Proba-2 to the test

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Proba-2 launch team group picture at the museum
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Entry 12: Checking launch tower links

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Proba-2 back in its storage container in the cleanroom
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Entry 13: Letting SMOS take its turn

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Proba-2 team arrival at Plesetsk Cosmodrome
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Entry 14: Second phase of Proba-2 launch campaign begins

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ESP mounting on the final panel
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Entry 15: Last bolts tightened on Proba-2

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Proba-2
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Entry 16: A short journey off the ground – Proba-2 mated to…

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Proba-2 in its final launch position, on top of Breeze
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Entry 17: Proba-2 mated onto Breeze upper stage

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Removal of Proba-2 protective covers
Enabling & Support

Entry 18: Encapsulated, Proba-2 vanishes from view forever

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Encapsulation
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Entry 19: Proba-2 in place and powered up

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SMOS, Proba-2 and Khrunichev teams
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Entry 20: Rail ride to the launch pad

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Joined dress rehearsal of Proba-2 and SMOS in MCC
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Entry 21: Far-flung dress rehearsal for launch

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