A clean bill of health
After a night decontaminating in the Kourou airlock, the team can now confirm that Europe’s Alphasat telecom satellite has made it through its intercontinental journey unscathed and is ready for the next step: joining with its rocket.
The transportation container was opened, and the satellite placed upright and lifted free. All of its parts were then carefully inspected to make sure that nothing had sustained any damage during the trip from Toulouse to the launch site in French Guiana.
The inspection was followed by a procedure called “touch and go.” This means checking that the parts of the satellite and rocket meant to join together do indeed match up. For this, the team used a flight adapter provided by the Arianespace launcher company.
In parallel, all of the ground test equipment was unpacked and calibrated. The xenon supply system and tank for the electric thrusters are now prepared for fuelling, which will take several days.
Now that the green light has been given for Alphasat’s launcher interface, the next two days will mainly be dedicated to verifying the satellite’s health. A start has already been made with the Alphabus platform equipment. Next up will be the Inmarsat and hosted payload units.
In addition, Alphasat’s Ariane 5 launcher is now ready to be moved to the Final Assembly Building. It is here that the satellite will soon be joined to the launcher.