Intelsat 29e Launch: All Systems Go
I have had the privilege of working with Arianespace on Intelsat missions for over 25 years. After all that time, every mission is still exciting. But I have to say that working on the launch of Intelsat 29e has been especially fulfilling. I consider it an honor to be part of the launch of our first Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellite.
In 2013, Intelsat signed a contract to launch Intelsat 29e on board an Ariane 5. Since then, we’ve worked almost weekly with Arianespace and Boeing to prepare for this mission. There have been two Design Reviews and launch readiness reviews in Paris and countless teleconferences and meetings at the Boeing facilities in California.
Since the IS-29e satellite arrived in French Guiana on 11 December, the Boeing, Arianespace and Intelsat teams have been working to ready the satellite for launch. We completed standalone testing, fueling and integration of the satellite onto the rocket. Today, the day before the actual launch, the Ariane 5 with the IS-29e satellite safely stowed inside, will be rolled out to the launch pad.
Tomorrow, on launch day, I will take on the role of Satellite Mission Director or DMS (French for “Directeur de la Mission Satellite”) in the Jupiter 2 Mission Control Center. Launching a satellite is a carefully choreographed event that starts 12 hours before liftoff. There are hundreds of people involved with the launch and everyone must know what everyone is doing at any given time. The responsibilities for the DMS include polling our Boeing Launch Team for readiness and relaying this information to the Arianespace Mission Director or CM (French for “Chef de Mission”). The DMS and CM communicate regularly via a recorded telecommunications loop. He will update me on the launcher, the launch range, launcher tracking stations, and weather status; and I will relay the state of readiness of IS-29e, the Boeing Mission Control, and our Intelsat Tracking Stations.
Once I get confirmation from the CM that the Ariane 5 launcher is in the proper configuration for launch, I will authorize Boeing to take IS-29e off external power and onto internal satellite power. The satellite will then be on its own power – designed for 15+ years of life. After a final verification and polling of the team, I will report to the CM the final words, “Intelsat 29e is on internal power and is GO for launch.”
Join us to watch the launch of Intelsat 29e live from French Guiana, Wednesday, 27 January. Lift-off as early as 6:20 p.m. EST (UTC/GMT-5).