Monthly Archives: September 2013

Charging Swarm

From Gianfranco (ESA) 26 September 2013 Tasks to prepare the Swarm satellites for launch are proceeding well here in Plesetsk. It may be snowing outside but we’ve been focusing on getting the satellite batteries charged and getting them ready for fuelling. Our Astrium colleagues had to arrange a few long shifts to get everything done on schedule but we are on track. The first satellite has been charged and yesterday it was moved to cleanroom 101B ready for fuelling. In the meantime, the equipment used to do the fuelling was prepared. In addition, on Tuesday we did an ‘under table room’ inspection. This is where the checkout equipment interfacing with the launcher...

Three in a row

From Gianfranco (ESA), 22 September 2013 The third Swarm satellite arrived safely in Plesetsk at the weekend, on Saturday 21 September. I personally accompanied the satellite on its trip from Munich to Plesetsk. Space for passengers on the Ilyushin IL-76 was pretty tight, but it was an interesting experience. Custom clearance at Arkhangelsk, or Archangel, went very smoothly. This third flight completes the shipment for the Swarm launch campaign. In total, we have shipped six 6 metre-long containers carrying more than 60 000 kg of cargo. We spent the rest of the weekend continuing with the tasks of unpacking and setting up in the MIK. By 15.00 on Sunday we had the...

First Swarm satellite unpacked

From Gianfranco (ESA), 19 September Yesterday was spent in unloading the containers holding the electrical ground support equipment, or  EGSE, and other equipment. We also set up the office areas. The first Swarm satellite ‘SC-1’ was moved to clean area 101A and left in its sealed container so that it could acclimatise overnight. The container door was then opened this morning and SC-1 was taken out. This afternoon the second Volga-Dnepr cargo aircraft landed and the new cargo with the second Swarm satellite, SC-2, is being transported  to the MIK General Hall. The plan is now to move SC-2  to clean area 101A on Saturday morning, rather than on Friday 20 as...

Preparations to launch Swarm begin

From Gianfranco (ESA), Plesetsk, 18 September 2013  With the arrival of the first of  the three Swarm satellites in Plesetsk, Russia, on 17, the launch campaign has begun. The Swarm mission is scheduled to be launched on 14 November on a Rockot. Swarm is ESA’s next Earth Explorer mission and is designed to measure the magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. It will give us insight into Earth’s interior and offer a better understanding of the processes that drive Earth’s dynamo, which currently appears to be weakening. So we are out here to prepare the three satellites for launch. The weather is pleasant, unseasonably warm....