Monthly Archives: October 2013

Swarm launch postponed

The launch of Swarm has been postponed by about a week. The announcement from the mission’s launch service provider, Eurockot, follows the decision to replace a unit in the Breeze upper stage of the Rockot launcher. Originally scheduled for 14 November, the launch is expected to be delayed by about one week. More details will be given as they become available.

Getting ready to fix the Swarm satellites to the launch...

From Catherine (ESA), 28 October 2013 This week the satellites will be on the move again. We start the exciting, but complex period of ‘joint operations’ – mating the three satellites with the adapter and the upper stage. This will last the whole week, if everything goes smoothly as hoped and planned. Today, the detailed plan of the joint operations will be put into action. Teams from Astrium, Krunichev and the Russian military start to manoeuvre all the pieces into place in preparation. The space available in cleanroom 101A is already tight, but nevertheless the satellites have to be moved to make room for the ‘adapter service stand’ and the adapter itself....

Swarm teams training at ESOC

A great update today from ESA’s Catherine Watson, on the Swarm project team and actually now in Plesetsk, describing activities back at ‘mission control’ – ESOC. She wrote: “We are having a quiet phase here in Plesetsk and it would be a good opportunity to describe how the teams at ESOC in Darmstadt are also rather busy with Swarm preparations.” Back at Mission Control Preparations are continuing in the Mission Operation Centre, housed within ESA’s ESOC facility in Darmstadt, for the Launch and Commissioning Phase. Colleagues from the Swarm Project Team at ESTEC and from an Industrial team have joined the Flight Operation team at ESOC to prepare for launch day. Their first...

Breeze upper stage sets off for launch pad

From Catherine (ESA), 22 October 2013 A series of electrical checks has been completed on the Rockot booster and today its starts its four-hour journey from the MIK to launch pad. It will then be lifted into position and prepared for launch. Krunichev has completed ‘fit checks’ of the upper stage and the fairing. There was a first inspection of the adapter and brackets on Friday and further preparation continued over the weekend. Meanwhile, the task of preparing the three Swarm satellites for liftoff on 14 November continues. This week, the focus has been on fixing the multilayer insulation to the satellites. Multilayer insulation blankets are used to help keep the satellites...

A nice clean fairing for Swarm

From Catherine (ESA), 17 October 2013 The process of cleaning the rocket’s fairing started in earnest yesterday. The fairing is the nose cone that  encapsulates the three Swarm satellites during the launch. Once outside Earth’s atmosphere the fairing is jettisoned.  Specialists cleaned the internal insulation layer of the fairing with isopropyl alcohol and then covered it with polythene to prevent any contamination. Today, the second half is being cleaned using the same procedure and will be covered and stored. Both halves will be kept in the cleanroom 101B until the satellites are encapsulated eight days before launch. Everything is progressing on schedule. Swarm FM1 and FM2 have had their batteries fully charged....

Swarm mission controllers train at ESOC

Images from the intensive simulation training taking place today at ESOC, Darmstadt, as the Swarm mission control team prepares for the critical launch and early orbit phase. Experts from across the ESOC centre – including flight dynamics, Estrack ground stations and software support – and from the Swarm project team are also supporting. Access full image gallery in Flickr here

Hello Breeze

From Catherine (ESA), 14 October 2013 After a bit of final fine tuning the process of fuelling all three satellites is now completed. Once again the doors between the two halls were opened and Swarm FM1, the last satellite to be fuelled, was returned to join the other two in cleanroom 101A. The functional testing of all three satellites has also been completed and everything is in working order. These activities saw the departure of Karim Bouridah and Yves Bordes and four of the Astrium Friedrichshafen team who return to continue with the simulation campaign activities at ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. Claudia also left us, but she’ll be coming...

More fuelling, more testing and more moving

From Claudia (ESA), 9 October 2013 Fuelling, testing and moving three identical satellites in and out of the fuelling room certainly involves some meticulous planning. The team finished fuelling Swarm FM2 on Saturday, leaving it to settle for the rest of the weekend. It was then tested for leaks on Monday and all was fine. So, the guys were then cleared to move the satellite back to cleanroom 101a and Swarm FM1 took its place in 101b. We started fuelling Swarm FM1 this morning. In addition, the absolute scalar magnetometers were tested yesterday – for all three satellites.  These sensors are positioned right at the end of the satellites’ boom. They measure...

Listening to Swarm

From Claudia (ESA), 4 October 2013 It’s been a hectic week with having to move the three satellites in and out the cleanroom – it was a bit like playing musical chairs! Our Astrium colleagues had it all under careful control so it went really well. And some of them have spent time listening to Swarm ….. It might seem strange but the Astrium engineers not only have to use their eyes for all this testing, but they also have to listen as well! The photo shows an engineer using  stethoscope to hear if the high pressure latch valve opens and closes properly. As well as the to and fro, they started the...

Back and forth

From Claudia (ESA), 3 October 2013 It’s been really busy as the Astrium team have had to move all three Swarm satellites back and forth to the cleanroom. This was a rather delicate exercise, but it all went well. The photos below give some idea how it all went!  

Swarm preparations on track

From Claudia (ESA), 1 October 2013 Everything is going according to plan here in Plesetsk and we have one of the satellites fuelled. The three satellites are identical so are named FM1, FM2 FM3, where FM means ‘flight model’. Following the fuelling of the first satellite, FM3, pressure adjustments and the latch valve end-to-end test are still to be carried out today. Yesterday, FM2 passed the health check for the ‘absolute scalar magnetometer’, which will measure the strength of the magnetic field to greater accuracy than any other magnetometer. In addition, simulations were carried out for satellite’s accelerometer. FM1’s battery has also had its first charge. With three satellites to launch there’s...