Entry 8: GOCE satellite joins Breeze

GOCE joining Breeze

29 August 2008 – It's been a busy week, all the electrical tests on the satellite have been completed, the countdown procedure has been rehearsed and GOCE is now in the process of being joined to the Breeze-KM Upper Stage of the Rockot launcher.

With launch just 10 working days away (L-10) activities at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome have been progressing very well. The first part of the week was dedicated to finishing off the electrical tests along with some mechanical checks. This also included removing so-called 'red tag items', which are components attached to the spacecraft for testing and protection but are removed once they are not needed anymore. Needless to say, all these red tag items have to be removed before the satellite is encapsulated in the fairing – which will be next week.

GOCE before joining the adaptor
GOCE before joining the adaptor

An important exercise also took place at the beginning of the week – that being the rehearsal of the countdown procedure with ESA's Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. The purpose of this procedure is to verify that all the communication links work correctly and that the procedure is thoroughly tested.

Following the successful countdown rehearsal, the rest of the week has been dedicated to activities relating to joining the GOCE satellite to the upper stage of the Rockot launcher. This started with fixing GOCE to the clamp band part of the adapter, which forms the interface between the Breeze-KM Upper Stage. This was successfully completed by the evening of Wednesday 27 August and was followed by a series of electrical tests to make sure the connections were all okay. For this the satellite was 'switched on', which showed that everything was connected up properly.

GOCE mated to Upper Stage adapter
GOCE mated to the Upper Stage adapter

The two half-shells of the fairing are currently being prepared to encapsulate GOCE for launch. This will happen on Sunday and will effectively be the last time the team lay eyes on ESA's gravity satellite.

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