By Todd Schilb, Senior Program Manager, Space Systems Acquisition
Hello from Baikonur! All systems are GO for the launch of Intelsat 31 on Wednesday, 8 June. Those of us on site at the Cosmodrome have been working for several days now on the combined operations.
We concluded the standalone effort of the spacecraft with the fueling process. This was completed successfully and the satellite was standing by to be mated to the launcher. In these photos, you can see the process of integrating the spacecraft onto the rocket booster.
Here is the first step in the process, the mating of the fueled spacecraft onto the flight adaptor and separation device:
Next, the spacecraft and flight adaptor were hoisted onto the Breeze-M upper stage:
The scaffolding you see there is so technicians can access the spacecraft and upper stage to complete the mating process and remove protective equipment from the spacecraft before the final encapsulation.
Interestingly, at the start of the Russian space program, they adopted a horizontal process to integrate the booster stages – and this approach is still in use today. So you can see here the “tilter” mechanism rotating the Breeze-M and Intelsat 31 into the horizontal position to prepare for encapsulation:
Next, the encapsulation process is done is two steps. First, half of the fairing is rolled underneath the spacecraft and secured to the separation interface on the Breeze-M. Then, the second half is brought over by crane and lowered onto the lower half. In this picture, you can see the top half being lowered into position above the bottom portion, which is already rolled into position:
Finally, the fairing separation planes are mated together to complete the encapsulation. From the point forward we refer to this assembly as the Ascent Unit (AU).
One of the team will write soon with more on the upcoming launch of #Intelsat31!