Tag Archives: testing

Spacecraft switch on

Activities are progressing well. The electrical team has set up all the electrical test equipment in the control room. This control room is adjacent to the cleanroom, where the spacecraft is, with a window in between. This makes it easy to communicate visually. Then a big bundle of cables runs from the control room to the satellite through a hole in the wall. The first switch on after transportation is always an exciting moment. You never know what might have happened during transport and packing/unpacking – a loose screw, a broken connector… you just don’t want to end up with smoke coming out of the spacecraft! There are however numerous safety mechanisms...

Update from the Gaia Operations team

There’s a detailed technical backgrounder today over at ESA’s Rocket Science blog reporting on the Gaia mission operations testing campaign. It was written by the Spacecraft Operations Manager, Dave Milligan, and covers what’s happening at ESA’s ESOC Operations Centre as the mission gets closer to lift off. Well worth a read! Access full report

Gaia comes to life – spacecraft ready for switch-...

As soon as brought out of its transport container, Gaia’s verification and preparation for launch could start. The first verification activity allowed to confirm that transport did not impact the alignment of some sensitive equipment like thrusters and star trackers. Then, the Astrium Stevenage team took over and verified the functionality and leak tightness of Gaia’s propulsion systems. This is a must to comply to safety before pressurising gas tanks and loading propellant tanks with dangerous fluids. The picture shows the set-up of the spacecraft in the S1B clean room connected to its fluidic equipment. The next step is the electrical verification. A number of new participants just arrived to support the...

Out of the box – Gaia unveiled

The transport container with the spacecraft was opened on Monday last week in the clean room of the launch centre. In the clean room the air is strictly controlled to a very high level of purity,  the temperature is kept stable at 21 °C and the humidity below 60%. These conditions are very important for Gaia which has very delicate optical systems. Here are some photos showing the phase of opening the container. Above: The container has just been opened and the cover is ready to be lifted. On the left wall one can see the two fans of the redundant air conditioning system. Also the air inside the container has been...

Gaia’s first days at the spaceport in Kourou

Just after landing in Cayenne, Felix Eboué airport, the Gaia spacecraft container and accompanying equipment have been transported by trucks to Europe’s spaceport in Kourou CSG (Centre Spatial Guyanais). Due to works on the road and due to the locally famous cycle Tour de Guyane, the transport was tricky to plan, with a risk to be forced to wait a few hours at the airport in case of delayed departure. Thanks to the timely arrival of the plane and to the good preparation, the spacecraft container convoy reached the S1B integration building at CSG in time. During transport under the tropical heat, the atmosphere inside the spacecraft container is controlled using a...

The next steps: A timeline of the final launch preparat...

The Gaia spacecraft is now safely packed into its container at the Astrium premises in Toulouse where it was built, awaiting its departure end of this week for the launch site. The next time, we’ll see the satellite will be at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Exciting! Giuseppe will report on the happenings and send pictures from the arrival directly from Kourou next week. In the meantime, let’s have a look at the next steps. In total, some 70 people from ESA and Astrium will be in Kourou, working in two shifts, Monday to Saturday, to get everything ready for launch. Until the launch window opens on 17 November, there are plenty...