Posted on October 17, 2013 by Honora
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....
Posted on October 17, 2013 by Daniel
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
Posted on October 9, 2013 by Honora
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...
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Honora
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...
Posted on October 2, 2013 by Honora
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...
Posted on September 24, 2013 by Honora
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...
Posted on September 19, 2013 by Honora
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...
Posted on September 19, 2013 by Honora
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....