Diary from a space project : Feb 3

Obviously, a rather large box with something inside...

Obviously, a rather large box with something inside...

The next instalment of the launch diary from ESA’s Charlotte Beskow working on launch preparations in Kourou. Yesterday (3 Feb): final activities at the outside of ATV; today (4 Feb): installation of the fairing and encapsulation of Johannes Kepler.

D – 9 : On top of a well-oiled machine
Kourou, 3 February 2011 – Thursday

Thursday evening,
Today we are at D-9 i.e. 9 working days from launch.

We have completed a number of activities that bring us ever closer to the next major step in the launch preparation process. Unless something drastic pops up in the next few hours, then tomorrow afternoon [4 February] the Arianespace teams will hoist the fairing into place. This is the outer shell that protects ATV during the initial part of the Ariane flight.

This means we have until tomorrow at 11:00 local time to finish any ongoing
activity on the outside of ATV. The teams worked long hours yesterday evening so today we should  finish well before midnight.

Here in the office w have just finished a run-through of the countdown
procedures with Astrium. From the meeting room, we can follow part of what is going on in the main assembly building thanks to a camera mounted at a strategic point. We have seen Astrium and ESA people inspecting the [white] multilayer insulation that covers the vessel. This sounds simple but, like many other tasks (not just in the space business!), just because a task is simple does not mean that it is short.

One thing to be kept in mind these days: if you are in a hurry, you
better do your task extra slowly. If not then nine times out of 10 you will
realise that you missed something and have to back-track.

Easier said than done though…

Next meeting in 90 minutes... time to stock up on coffee and chocolate....!

About Daniel

Daniel Scuka is Senior Editor for Spacecraft Operations at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
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