Fuelling complete as countdown to launch begins

9 July 2013

Last night three tonnes of propellants were loaded into Alphasat, completing fuelling operations and almost doubling the total weight of the satellite in the process. 

In addition to its xenon ion thrusters, Alphasat sports a bipropellant propulsion system powered by monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. These are hazardous chemicals and must be handled carefully to ensure the safety of both personnel and the satellite.

The fuelling by a specialist team in protective suits from Thales Alenia Space took place in the S5 Hazardous Processing Facility at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Fuelling follows a strict procedure and is monitored from a remote control room by video and voice link. After loading, the propellants are pressurised by helium ready for launch.

The next step is to mate Alphasat with the launcher adaptor and move it to the Final Assembly Building, where it will be encapsulated in the Ariane 5 fairing, ready for integration and launch on 25 July.

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