Ready to Roll…to the Launch Pad, That Is

By Todd Schilb, Program Manager, Space Systems Acquisition

Part of a series from Intelsat team members overseeing the launch of Intelsat 34 (IS-34).

With less than a week to the launch of Intelsat 34 on 20 August, much has been accomplished in the last few days, and IS-34 is now ready to be rolled onto the launch pad.

However, before that happens, a few things needed to take place.  First, we had to transfer the satellite from the building where it was fueled to the final assembly building (bâtiment d’assemblage final or BAF). In the first photo below, the team can be seen putting the satellite into the transfer container.

The container is environmentally controlled to protect the satellite as it is transported between the two buildings. Because of the hot daytime temperatures here in Kourou – which can be as high as 37°C (99°F) – we can only move the satellite at night, as you can see in the second photo:

VA225 Mise IS34 en CCU3 au S5A le 10/08/2015

VA225 Transfert IS34 du S5A au BAF HE le 10/08/2015

The next morning, the team removed the satellite from the container and prepared it for lifting onto the launch vehicle.  By this time, our co-passenger had already completed its integration process and was encapsulated under the fairing of the rocket. Next, we had to secure IS-34 on the launch vehicle, and then the fairing (with our co-passenger already inside) was lifted and installed over IS-34 (pictured above left).

Take a close look! This is the last time IS-34 will be seen by human eyes. After all of our years of planning, building and testing, the satellite is completely configured for its life in space.

Now, with IS-34, safe and secure under the fairing, the team is conducting electrical and RF tests to confirm that we can communicate with the satellite through the launch vehicle connections.

In the next few days leading up to the launch, the majority of the activity around IS-34 will be led by the launch vehicle teams. They are the ones responsible for the preparation of the launcher (with IS-34 safely secured inside) and rolling it out to the launch pad.

For the most part, the satellite teams are done with the integration work and will spend the next few days refining launch countdown procedures and sharpening launch day skills through several rehearsals.

We remain on schedule for our launch on 20 August 2015. I hope you’ll plan to tune-in and join us!


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