Monthly Archives: September 2012

MetOp-B launch – Annotated timeline

Find below an annotated timeline of the most important steps in today’s MetOp-B launch via Soyuz from Baikonur. Note all times are forecast and subject to change. Ground stations in use include: Malindi (MAL), Kerguelen (KER), Esrange (ESR), Alaska (ASK) and Hawaii (HWI). Time CEST/Baikonur MET Mission Elapsed Time Event 02:28/06:28 L0 – 16:00:00 Launch timeline begins 14:28/18:28 L0 – 04:00:00 State Commission meeting authorising launcher fuelling 14:58/18:58 L0 – 03:30:00 Start of launcher fuelling 16:58/20:58 L0 – 01:30:00 Start of launcher 3-stage automatic sequence 17:15/21:15 L0 – 01:13:00 Start of media event at EUMETSAT HQ 17:43/21:43 L0 – 00:45:00 Service tower removal 18:27/22:27 L0 – 00:00:40 Release of umbilical mast 18:27/22:27...

ESA’s European Space Operations Centre ‘gre...

ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, ESOC,  in Germany is ‘green’ and ready for launch following the pre-launch meeting. The operations systems, satellite and launcher are all good. MetOp-B, Europe’s latest polar-orbiting weather satellite, is set to launch from Baikonur tomorrow at 18:28 CEST.  Watch live online.

MetOp on the launch pad

From Damiano (ESA), Baikonur, 14 September Yesterday, MetOp reached another milestone on its way to life in space. The final integration with the launcher had been successful and everything was ready for the roll out to the launch pad. The day started  the rocket and the team getting a religious blessing, a tradition we didn’t want to miss. At the end of the day, we got another ‘blessing’ : the State Commission gave authorisation to roll out. Before they gave the green light all the teams had to declare the status of the many elements involved in the roll out. There was an old picture of a young Gagarin in his white...

Successful integration of the upper composite, containi...

Taken from EUMETSAT, 12 September The mechanical integration of the Upper Composite with Soyuz Block was performed successfully on 11 September, and electrical tests are now underway. Weighing about 12 tonnes (12,000 kilos), the Upper Composite was carefully lifted with a crane onto a train on the afternoon of 10 September. The train and its precious cargo made a slow and steady journey overnight, finally arriving at its destination the following morning. Once safely inside the MIK 40 processing facility, the mechanical integration of the Upper Composite and Soyuz Block I was initiated and completed. The launch team is now conducting a series of electrical tests and everything is running according to...

Yes ! We finally did it!

From Damiano (ESA), Baikonur, 10 September MetOp-B is in its Soyuz fairing ready to be transported to the Mik-40 for  integration on the launcher. It’s been a very busy two weeks here in Baikonur. Getting closer to the end of the campaign, in fact, means also having less time to recover any time spent in solving unexpected issues. And, unfortunately, we’ve had a few …. so, busy long days for the teams. However, we got the green light in the end and we can move closer to the launch pad.  After fuelling MetOp we started the combined operation with the launcher. First the spacecraft was mated to the launcher adapter and, in...

Mission control team in simulation training this AM

And a brief note on a simple tool used in mission operations… Here are some quick photos taken this morning at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany, where the MetOp-B mission operations team is conducting a simulation in the Main Control Room (MCR). Specifically, it’s the ‘B’-team doing the sim; the team is split into an A- and a B-team so as to provide 24-hour-per-day staffing in the MCR during the ~72-hour launch and early orbit phase (LEOP) prior to handover to Eumetsat. ESA’s Andreas Rudolph (see at far right in the photo above) is the Flight Director for the B-team. ESOC’s newly renovated MCR makes it a little tough...

Juicing up our satellite: MetOp-B fuelled

From Luca (ESA), Baikonur, 31 August MetOp-B’s Reaction Control System (RCS) – the mission’s thrusters – has been fuelled and pressurised in preparation for launch on 17 September. The satellite was transferred to Starsem’s Hazardous Processing Facility for the operation and a specialist team from Astrium carefully checked their equipment before operations could begin. The tank of thruster fuel (MetOp uses hydrazine propellant for propulsion. ) was also transferred from the storage area to the facility. Hydrazine is a hazardous chemical and has to be handled carefully to ensure the safety of both personnel and the spacecraft. Hydrazine is highly flammable and also poses health risks if it comes in contact with skin or...