Tag Archives: Antonov

Hard work and a successful launch as reward

At 02:45 this morning, the 2nd Antonov carrying the Deployable Sunshield (DSA) and the remainder of the Ground Support Equipment landed in Cayenne. Waiting to meet it and unload the cargo were the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) transport team supported by Astrium “heavy gang” with representatives from ESA and Arianespace.   This meant a very early start from Kourou for all involved in the activity. Just part of the ups and downs of a launch campaign. The operation went very smoothly and thanks to some welcome "ti" dejeuner with hot coffee kindly delivered by Freelance, we were able to complete the loading of the trucks in good time for the road journey...

Preparing for the arrival of the Gaia sunshield

Today is dedicated for preparations for the arrival of the second shipment with the Deployable Sunshield Assembly and the electrical ground support test equipment. We just heard that the Anotonov has arrived at the airport in Cayenne and the off-load is currently ongoing. It will then be transported by truck to the spaceport. We'll share pictures once it has arrived. Here is a nice animation showing the deployment of Gaia’s 10m diameter sunshade once in space. Meanwhile, the launch team continues to grow with the arrival of ESA and Astrium members. With the inspection of the satellite successfully completed, preparations continue for the start of the check-out of the propulsion systems. People...

We are in Kourou!

The Antonov 124-100M, transporting the Gaia spacecraft, took off from the Toulouse Blagnac airport at 20:00 on 22 August. I was part of the cargo as passenger together with two Astrium colleagues: one of them, Tommy, was in charge of regularly checking that the temperature and humidity levels inside the Gaia container were always pleasing the spacecraft (those conditions were maintained by two independent air conditioning systems). The rest of the crew were nine members of the flight team (pilots, flight engineers, meteorologist, etc.) and the team of eight in charge of uploading and offloading the cargo, all Russian speaking. After a couple of hours of flight we landed in Porto to...

Gaia shipment to Kourou in Antonov airplane

Yesterday, Gaia was transported in a special convoy from the Astrium premises to Toulouse-Blagnac airport from where it departed for the launch site in Kourou in an Antonov plane. The transport of a satellite to the launch base needs to be handled very carefully and requires unusual means. Therefore, the satellite was put into a container before, in order to protect it from the external environment.       The plane was already waiting at the runway when the container with Gaia arrived: An Antonov 124-100, the second largest plane in the world (after A380), capable to carry up to 150 tonnes.         The 10 tonne Gaia container was...