Intelsat 29e Launch: The Start of an Epic(NG) Journey
By Brian Sing, Senior Program Manager, Space Systems Acquisition
This is an exciting week at Intelsat, as we formally begin the operations phase of the Intelsat 29e (IS-29e) launch, set for 27 January 2016. For me, the journey to launch IS-29e started several years ago. This is probably my 40th launch (not that I’ve counted), but a satellite launch is always thrilling – and this one in particular as it’s the first of our next generation, high throughput Intelsat EpicNG satellites.
My IS-29e journey actually began when Intelsat decided to launch the satellite on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle. That’s when I was assigned to work on the project, and began coordinating with teams from Intelsat, Arianespace and Boeing, the manufacturer of the satellite, on the engineering phase. During this early phase, we perform numerous studies to ensure compatibility of the Ariane 5 rocket with the satellite design and Intelsat’s requirements.
Since then, we’ve conducted performance and trajectory studies to ensure that, after separation from the rocket, IS-29e will be delivered to the right orbit and in a stable orientation with the sun pointed to the solar panels. Structurally, the mechanical load was analyzed to ensure the satellite will survive the rigors of the liftoff acceleration, aerodynamic buffeting and passing through the sound barrier as it approaches the edge of space. Thermodynamic studies were conducted to verify the satellite can tolerate the edge of space after the fairing is separated. At fairing jettison, the satellite will be travelling approximately 5,000 miles/hour and even any trace amounts of air can cause friction heating.
Meanwhile, the IS-29e launch campaign personnel flew down earlier this week to the launch base in Kourou, French Guiana. This team (pictured) is comprised of the Intelsat 29e Spacecraft Manager and Boeing satellite engineers, technicians, and logistics personnel.
We needed to arrive a few days prior to the satellite arrival to receive safety training, launch base familiarization and logistics at the launch site. Speaking of which, I need to sign off to join the team as we get ready for the send-off of IS-29e as it begins its journey from California to French Guiana.