Entry 6: SMOS joins rocket adapter

SMOS positioned on launch adapter

14 October 2009 - Following the fuelling of the satellite a few days ago, SMOS has been lifted by crane from the working stand on the fuelling platform and joined to the launch adapter. Since the satellite already holds fuel, this task is potentially dangerous – so everyone involved had to wear special protective clothing.

Once the satellite was positioned on the adapter, a clamp band, which is a crucial component that secures the satellite to the adapter, was fitted and tension then carefully applied to 23 Kn.

As ESA’s Proba-2 mission is being launched on the same rocket, there are, in fact, two of these clamp bands: one to hold the SMOS satellite on the adaptor and one to connect the two halves of the adapter, which separate after SMOS is released into orbit.

SMOS after fuelling
SMOS after fuelling

The small Proba-2 satellite sits under the SMOS adapter during launch, so the release of the adapter halves enables the satellite, which is attached by a Russian release mechanism, to be injected into orbit. This happens almost two hours after SMOS has been injected.

Between fuelling and moving SMOS onto the launch adapter, another activity was completed – the multilayer insulation material was closed up around a number of satellite components.

Applying multilayer insulation
Applying multilayer insulation

The Proba-2 team has now returned to Plesetsk, so from now on in the run up to liftoff on 2 November, the launch campaign activities for both satellites will be carried out together.

The next major step will be when teams have to say ‘goodbye’ to their satellites as SMOS and Proba-2 are encapsulated together within the fairing on the Breeze-KM upper stage. This step is scheduled to take place on 19 October.

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