27 April - 4 May 2000
5 May 2000Over the coming weeks, members of the ESA Cluster II project team will be sending regular entries for the launch campaign diary from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. These first entries are based on the logs provided by the Launch Campaign Administrator, Looc Bourillet.
Thursday 4 May
Another 75 tonnes of equipment, including the FM 5 and FM 8 spacecraft plus ten more containers, were flown out of Basle by a second Antonov on 3 May, with arrival at Baikonur on the evening of the fourth. The late arrival of the Antonov means that unloading cannot start until the following day.
Monday 1 May
A well deserved rest for everyone? Well, not quite. The 'telecoms' experts (G. Melchior, F. Wechsler, M. Gottschlich) go to the base to continue setting up the telecommunications.
The mountain bikes available at the hotel are very much appreciated and most useful in exploring the town of Baikonur as well as the immensity of the surrounding Kazakh steppe.
Sunday 30 April
Due to the closure of the Cosmodrome on 1 May, this Sunday is also a working day for all of the team. Surprisingly enough, some of our Russian partners came dressed in orange suits, as if they knew about the Dutch Queen's birthday!
Unloading activities go on and the whole team succeeds in completing it, though not without a fair amount of perspiration!
All of the office furniture, stationery, computers etc. have been brought into the office.
Saturday 29 April
Saturday is a normal working day for the launch campaign team. Unloading of the spacecraft container can begin after it is transferred to site 112.
At the Baikonur airport, the 2 spacecraft containers and all the equipment were hoisted out of the Antonov plane and then transported by train to the Baikonur Cosmodrome about 40 km away.
Friday 28 April
First transfer to the working site by bus. Departure from the hotel at 07:30, arrival at site 112 (Starsem working areas) at 08:15.
The first cargo plane landed at 10:45 (local time), using the same runway as the Russian shuttle Buran during its maiden flight. The plane is an Antonov 124, a real flying monster, with a much larger belly than a Boeing 747. The cargo consisted of the first pair of Cluster II spacecraft (FM 6 and FM 7) inside their protective containers, and ten 'sea' containers packed with ground support equipment and other essential hardware. Unloading activities went on very efficiently until late afternoon.
Thursday 27 April
Transfer of the first Cluster II launch campaign team from Moscow to Baikonur. 33 people in total, comprising staff from Dornier Satellitensysteme, Matra-Marconi Space, TGI (spacecraft support), Europassistance (medical support), Starsem (launch services) and ESA.
Arrival in Baikonur on time. Blue sky. Usual wind (about force 3 - 4). Outside temperature 27 °C.
After Kazakh customs clearance ( 1 to 1½ hours) most of the team have their first look at the city of Baikonur during the transfer by bus to the Sputnik hotel.
After a general presentation by Starsem, everybody is ready in the starting blocks to launch the campaign!