No water in town
All water supply is cut off and water is distributed twice a day at certain points in the city. By 1 October it is expected that the complex network of hot and cold water pipes will be in operation again, ready to withstand the harsh winter cold.
Work is progressing on schedule and the spacecraft and its adaptor system are ready to be installed on the upper stage of the Proton, also known as Block DM. Despite the queues for water distribution (background), children are still at play in the streets of Baikonur.
The launch was planned for 22:55 from the famous Gagarin pad, about 40 minutes by bus from the Integral team's area on the base. About one hour before lift off, buses trickled in onto a parking area, maybe 2 to 3 km from the launch pad. Staff from all over the cosmodrome, some with their families, and the Integral team, often referred to as 'foreign specialists', watched the pad attentively.
A Soyuz launch is a well-rehearsed event, that needs little explanation. On time, the launcher lit up the night sky, made a deafening noise and headed for space.
Start of combined operations
These elements are needed to fix the spacecraft to the launcher and to allow the spacecraft to separate from the launcher once in orbit.
This is just a first step in a series of activities that will lead to the final preparation of the so-called space head unit, which consists of:
Once completed, a train will transport this whole unit to another building for final assembly of the first three stages of the Proton launcher.
Team members working close to Integral need to have at hand either gas masks or emergency hoods connected to an air bottle for breathing. Further safety measures are carried out in the clean room.
Everyday, the major parts of the Reaction Control System on the spacecraft are 'sniffed' with a portable instrument that reacts to traces of hydrazine. A detector has also been mounted on the spacecraft support stand.