The COROT satellite, designed to detect exoplanets and study the interiors of stars, safely reached the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on board an Antonov 124 cargo plane on 15 November 2006, and it is now being prepared for launch.
COROT, a CNES mission with ESA participation, will be sent into Earth orbit by a Soyuz rocket on 21 December 2006. CNES in collaboration with Alcatel - who built the satellite - have just kicked-off COROT's 5-week launch campaign. In parallel, those responsible for ground and science operations are rehearsing the procedures by which the satellite will be placed and operate in its orbit and by which its instruments will start working once in space.
After being removed from its container, COROT will be tested to check possible damage due to transportation. After this, its fuel tanks will be filled with hydrazine, which will power its attitude-control system once in orbit. Finally, further tests will verify the correct positioning of the satellite’s multi-layer insulation sheets, to ensure proper thermal protection in space.