Entry 8: SMOS encapsulated in fairing
21 October 2009 – Yesterday was an emotional day for the SMOS team in Plesetsk as it was time to say goodbye to their baby while they watched it being encapsulated within the half-shells of the Rockot fairing.
Now sealing the SMOS satellite from view, the protective fairing will not be opened again until around three minutes from launch. Encapsulation marks a significant step on the road to launch, as ESA’s Director for Earth Observation Programmes commented, “Today, with the encapsulation of the SMOS satellite in the launcher fairing, we have made an important step towards the launch of this key environmental mission, which will investigate two parameters of the complex climate system. I am looking forward to the launch in a few days!”
For both SMOS and Proba-2, which is being launched at the same time and sits below SMOS in launch configuration, the mechanical work has finished. The teams will now charge the batteries and test the communication lines for the day of launch.
The next important step will take place on Monday 26 October when the ‘upper composite’ is rolled out to the launch pad, for mating with the rest of the rocket.