Following an intense period in French Guiana, with the required 2-week quarantine period due to the COVID-19 preceding another 2-weeks of operations at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou, we are very pleased to have concluded our launch preparatory activities. and to be Ready for Launch! While the 2-week quarantine period was a period…
Following an intense period in French Guiana, with the required 2-week quarantine period due to the COVID-19 preceding another 2-weeks of operations at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou, we are very pleased to have concluded our launch preparatory activities. and to be Ready for Launch!
While the 2-week quarantine period was a period of relatively low activity, since we were not able or allowed to move around apart from the limited access to the hotel premises, activities ramped up quickly once we ‘got out’. We were eager to get our access badges to enter the base and check on our hardware that had been waiting there for well over 2 months for our return. We did stop to take a memorable picture at the entrance still.
We performed initial hardware checks and supported our colleagues at Spaceflight with the activities required to take out their customer’s satellites from one of the deployers for charging – and safely put them back in afterwards of course.
We then prepared for the final interface testing with the sequencers we have specifically developed for this flight for AVIO and Arianespace under the guidance of ESA. These two sequencers, mounted safely on the inside of the HEX integration module developed by SAB Aerospace, are responsible for the deployment command and telemetry feedback for all the deployers mounted on the HEX. These not only include our own QuadPack and ISIPOD deployers, but also the deployers of colleagues in the launch field.
Testing of the functionality and proper sequence execution of those sequencers with the entire upper stage system in the loop is crucial for the full confidence that all deployers separate the CubeSats correctly and at the right time. Following the successful completion of the tests, the sequencers were prepared for flight, including charging, locking and sealing of connectors, and preparing them to be armed for flight by adding the ABF connectors just before launch.
With those tests successfully completed, we had one other important task to complete: the integration of the last satellite to be added to the entire payload stack – DIDO-3. As this satellite, built by our colleagues at ISISPACE with a payload from Spacepharma, contains temperature-sensitive microgravity experiments, we had kept it at cool temperatures inside its insulated case all this time in our hotel room, and only transported it to the cleanroom facilities on the day of integration, which was coordinated with Arianespace to be as close to encapsulation as possible.
Following final checks and flight preparation of the satellite, which included placing the ABF and simulating deployment after launch to verify the satellite would power on and start booting up as planned, the satellite was integrated into the last remaining QuadPack deployer slot. We then set the QuadPack door to be ready for flight, torqued and locked everything, and removed all the RBF labelling from all our deployers. It was close to 02:00 am when we finished, being the last ones in the cleanroom that day, with encapsulation waiting to start only a short night away!
That was it then. A whole month on campaign. All done. At least for the part of our activities at CSG. For the delicate final task of installing the ABF connectors for the sequencers shortly before launch through the access hatch of the fairing once the upper composite was installed on the launch vehicle, we had instructed and trained AVIO specialists.
With all the hardware flight prepared, including 2 sequencers, 6 QuadPacks, 2 ISIPODs, and 21 satellites we have integrated for this launch, of which 3 completely built and to be supported for operations by our colleagues at ISISPACE, we are now officially Ready for Launch!
We would like to thank AVIO, Arianespace and ESA for the fruitful cooperation and support on this launch campaign, and of course all our customers for their business and trust in our services. Despite the current global situation fighting a pandemic, we didn’t give up and managed to continue our activities and get ready for launch together! All the best for launch.