2018 is a busy year here at the spaceport, and in particular for us at ESA. There are 4 ESA satellite campaigns planned during the coming months: Galileo, BepiColombo, Aeolus, and MetOp. All of them are different, and, more to the point, they are each different from one another and from the standard telecom satellite campaigns.
BepiColombo is planned for launch in October but they have a long launch campaign ahead of them.
- On April 24th, the first of four big Antonov planes arrived at the airport in Cayenne. The weather gods were on the side of the project and unloading took place in dry, slightly overcast conditions — something that cannot be guaranteed during the rainy season. I arrived in the payload preparation building, S5, to say hello to the team and found them in a familiar unpacking mode. I say familiar since this was the same place that ATV used for the five launch campaigns between 2007 and 2014 (maybe even the same blue crates). Racks were placed in the corridor and there were big crates in every office, with people unpacking the stacks of equipment and other items that will be installed and used during the coming months.
- The second plane came on Friday, April 27th, carrying the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). Logistics is, as always, a key element in any satellite project. What always strikes me is the dynamic of the team: happy to be here and ready to get going. You can feel the positive energy as you enter the corridor.
- The third plane landed on May 2nd, carrying the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM).
- The final Antonov arrived this week, marking the start of preparation to ready the craft for launch.
Head of the ESA Space Transportation Office in Kourou