The Integral satellite has now safely arrived in the Baikonur Cosmodrome, after a smooth trip from the test center at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
The satellite, shipped in two separate modules, was transported by road to Schiphol airport, where it was loaded in the cargo bay of an Antonov 124 aircraft. After a stopover in Moscow, it arrived on 24 August 2002 in Yubileiny airport, in the center of the Cosmodrome. Finally, a train transferred the spacecraft containers from the airport to the integration facilities in building 92A-50. To avoid any shock to the spacecraft, this final leg took more than 6 hours for a distance of about only 20 kilometres.
30 August 2002
After arrival on 24 August, the service module was moved onto its container base into the fuelling hall. There, it was connected to test equipment to review the status of the Reaction Control System (RCS).
On 27th August, the cleanliness and humidity inside the tanks was verified. On the 28th, the system was pressurized with helium to 24 bars, the maximum expected operating pressure during flight. Overall leak testing started on the 29th, with the closing of the container lid. Helium inside the container is monitored and compared to an initial injection of a known quantity. Increase in helium concentration indicates that a leak is present. Helium concentration remained stable, proving that the system was leak tight. Following the test, the tanks were depressurised and the helium was exchanged for nitrogen.
29 August 2002
The Payload Module (PLM) is now inside the preparation hall (known as hall 103) where some thermal insulation left out for the transport is being installed before the flight. These final preparations will last up to the mating of the Payload Module (PLM) and the Service Module (SVM), planned for 1 September 2002, immediately after the completion of the global leak test on the Service Module (SVM) reaction control system.
24 August 2002
- Antonov departure towards Baikonur at 5:45 Moscow time, almost two hours delay.
- Landing at 10:30 in the sunny Yubeleini airfield, lengthy manoeuvre to position the Antonov near the railway, exactly in the specified point. In the mean time all the welcome army is on the tarmac. The unloading of the Service Module (SVM) container is slow with the placing of the metallic plates on the tarmac as sort of VIP carpet to smooth the rolling. The wind starts to build up and becomes very strong. Around 5 pm the train with the Integral load leaves the airfield towards the satellite processing facility.
- Unloading of the train upon arrival goes from 23:00 until 01:00. The Payload Module (PLM) and Service Module (SVM) containers are safely entered in Hall 101.
23 August 2002
- Departure of convoy from ESTEC to Schiphol with Payload Module (PLM) and Service Module (SVM) early in the morning (4:30)
- Loading the containers between 8:30 and 12:00.
- Take off 16:40: the Integral escort is: Eliseo Balaguer and Arrien Tiemon from ESTEC and 3 Alenia team members.
- Moscow 22:00 local time, landing
- Parking place free at 23:00. The plane is serviced; weather checked, tires embarked and a new crewmember joins. This Antonov was continuously on the move in the last few days! Twice Milan-Leipzig with a cargo of 120 tonnes of sand sacks for the floods in Germany.
22 August 2002
- In Schiphol (Amsterdam airport), arrival of Antonov in the afternoon. Different plane and crew from first shipment. Loading of the second Antonov with 3 sea containers
- In ESTEC, loading of the Payload Module (PLM) and Service Module (SVM) onto lorries and preparation for departure to Schiphol.
17 August 2002
The Integral launch campaign has now fully started, with the arrival today at 10:30 (Baikonur time) at Baikonur's Yubileini airport, of more than 70 tonnes of support equipment by Antonov 124.
The large cargo aircraft was unloaded in just a few hours and by 14:00, all items were transferred to railcars, ready for the final trip to the integration building, known as building 92A-50. The support equipment consists of all the test and assembly tools needed to finalize and monitor the satellite before liftoff. The team is now anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Integral spacecraft, planned for next week.