After a month full of uncertainties, Gaia transponders are back and in good health.
Following their business class return flight to Kourou, both Gaia transponders have been re-integrated in the spacecraft, re-connected, and functionally verified.
At the completion of five days of intensive testing, all results were positive, allowing the re-installation of the solar array panels and of the multilayer insulation (MLI) blankets, which had to be removed for operator access (see picture). This progress allows the team to reaffirm the recently agreed launch date of 19 December.
As of Monday 25 November, we will be able to resume the spacecraft preparation, beginning with pressurisation of the gas tanks. This is a hazardous activity performed by a specialised team from Astrium Stevenage, UK. No other activities can be performed in parallel on the spacecraft. While it is being completed, the rest of the team will focus on the preparation for the transfer of the spacecraft and installation in the S5A building where propellant loading takes place.