Europe’s largest telecom satellite on the road again
It was a tumultuous journey from the fuelling hall to the integration building last Thursday evening, but Alphasat arrived safely and has now been installed in its Ariane 5 Sylda dual-launch pod.
As is sometimes the case in tropical French Guiana, stormy weather conditions delayed the transfer from the S5 fuelling hall to the final integration building. Cargo as delicate as Alphasat is never transported under potentially risky conditions, so the team were obliged to assess the situation carefully before making a move.
High winds aside, late that evening the Alphasat ‘stack’ – the satellite with its attached launcher adaptor – was ready to go, arriving at the airlock in the Batiment d’assemblage final at 3 am on Friday morning.
The morning’s work was not over yet though, as the container was due to be opened at 6 am sharp. Testing began after the stack was lifted out of its container to prepare for installation on Sylda. The tests took most of Friday, during which the six-tonne satellite was lifted again and mounted on top of Sylda – a final ‘flight’ described by the team as “impressive”.
Testing continued from inside Sylda, with Astrium running functional checks well into the night. The next step is encapsulation by Ariane’s protective fairing, leaving the completed vehicle ready to move to the launch pad.