CryoSat: final briefing confirms ESA ready to go
The CryoSat-2 pre-launch briefing was held today at ESA's European Space Operations Centre, to provide the latest technical information on launch preparations. It's a traditional yet crucial step that confirmed the teams, computers, networks and ground stations supporting the mission are ready for liftoff.
Almost 100 members of the extended 'team of teams' working on CryoSat-2 took part in a formal pre-launch briefing held at ESOC earlier today. Launch is scheduled for tomorrow, 8 April, at 15:57 CEST.
CryoSat-2 will be placed into orbit 717 km above Earth by a Russian Dnepr rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Ensuring all team members fully informed
The event provided the latest technical details relating to the 'ground segment' - the flight operations teams, the mission control systems, the ground stations and the network links that will go live just a few seconds before liftoff.
A series of presentations ensured everyone involved in the launch and critical early operations of CryoSat-2 is fully informed on the latest status of the satellite, the ground systems and the Dnepr launcher. It was attended by the engineers, scientists and operations experts who will be 'on console' in various control rooms or sitting at specialised workstations at ESOC beginning some nine hours before launch.
"All systems and facilities that will support the mission in flight are fully ready. We are looking forward to an intensive early operations period lasting through Sunday, with 24-hour shift coverage from the teams at ESOC. The ground segment has been verified and we are are ready to go," said Flight Operations Director Pier Paolo Emanuelli.
ESA's Richard Francis, the CryoSat-2 Project Manager, took the opportunity to review the mission's development and the many routine technical issues that have been solved in the past months in order to ensure readiness for flight. He also provided a detailed review of Dnepr, which has been adapted to meet CryoSat requirements.
"We have received excellent support from the launch authorities in Baikonur, and the satellite, the launcher and the teams there are all green. We are ready for launch," he announced.
The presentations also included in-depth technical reports from numerous ESA experts and team leaders from highly specialised areas including flight dynamics, ground station operations, software systems, networks and facility management.
In addition to the teams at ESOC and Baikonur, tomorrow's launch will be supported by ground tracking stations at Malindi, Kenya; Svalbard, Norway; Troll, Antarctica; and, Kiruna, Sweden. The Kiruna station is part of ESA's own worldwide ESTRACK station network, while the others are supporting this mission through cross-support agreements.
CryoSat-2's scientific data is expected to start flowing later in the year, once the initial checkout and commissioning phase ends.