The Soyuz rocket that is being used to launch Sentinel-1B will also carry other missions into orbit. Three CubeSats are taking advantage of the lift into space. These small satellites, each measuring just 10×10×10 cm, have been developed by university student teams, through ESA’s Education Office ‘Fly Your Satellite! (FYS)’ programme. The other is Microscope, from the French space agency CNES, which will test the universality of free fall.

Combined operations have started and all of the satellites are now be integrated onto the launcher. The CubeSats and Microscope are first up.

On Friday 8 April, the ASAP-S payload platform with the CubeSats Fly Your Satellite (FYS) and Microscope was installed inside a fairing-shaped container offering a controlled environment, and moved to another clean room.

FYS and Microscope nstalled inside a fairing-shaped container offering a controlled environment. (ESA)

FYS and Microscope nstalled inside a fairing-shaped container offering a controlled environment. (ESA)

Also the Fregat upper stage, filled with its propellant, was moved there earlier this week, and today the ASAP-S has been integrated onto the Fregat, bringing the FYS CubeSats again closer to their final position on the Soyuz launcher.

First, the ASAP-S, already pre-assembled with Microscope and with the three FYS CubeSats was installed on the Fregat upper stage of the VS-14 launcher. This was conducted by personnel that took special safety precautions – important because Fregat, which will carry all five satellites, was already loaded with the propellant required for the orbital manoeuvres.

The whole ASAP-S was lifted up by a crane, then it was slowly and carefully moved on top of the Fregat and then carefully brought down to mate with it. ASAP-S (with CubeSats and Microscope) are now installed on Fregat, and the team is fxing all mechanical and electrical interconnections. After having completed the physical mating, for the rest of the day the personnel will work at fixing all mechanical and electrical interconnections, and to perform all checkouts required to confirm the correctness of the installation.

Tomorrow, Sentinel-1B will join FYS and Microscope as the last satellite to be installed on the payload platform.

From the team in Kourou.

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