Entry 7: SMOS mated to launcher upper stage
20 October 2009 – Another major milestone in the SMOS launch campaign has been passed as the satellite was secured on top of the Breeze-KM upper stage of the launcher yesterday.
This last major handling operation and significant milestone follows a number of intricate tasks.
After the satellite had been transferred onto the launch adapter last week and the correct tension applied to the clamp bands, the satellite battery was charged and balanced. In addition, before moving the satellite to join the upper stage, the platform and payload was carefully inspected and some red tags items removed. Red tags items are things such as protection covers that must be removed before encapsulation. Meanwhile, the fuelled Breeze-KM upper stage arrived in the cleanroom and was checked over. In parallel, preparation activities on the Proba-2 were carried out.
At the end of last week, the SMOS satellite, fixed to its launch adapter, was positioned on a railcar and brought along side the upper stage of the launcher. Then on Monday 19 October, the satellite was carefully hoisted on top of the upper stage and mated. The procedure went well and the team was excited to see the ‘upper composite’ begin to take shape.
Now mated to the upper stage of the launch, the team will have to say ‘good-bye’ to the SMOS satellite as it is encapsulated within the fairing – this is scheduled for today.