17 - 25 July 2000
26 July 2000After final thermal and mechanical and electrical activities on the second Cluster pair, both spacecraft have been stacked together in the Upper Composite Integration Facility and the stack is mated with the Adaptateur Charge Utile (ACU).
This test is followed by the recharging of the batteries and by the verification of the pyro lines.
Tonight, the Fregat stage, which has been fuelled over the weekend, is due to arrive in our building (the Energia building) for its mating with the Cluster stack at the end of the week.
24 July (evening)
The Cluster stack with Rumba and Tango has been mated onto the Adapteur Charge Utile (ACU), which is our flight interface to the launcher. The stack has been placed onto the ACU with the help of guiding clamps for the last centimetres of the vertical motion. Once installed, the clamp band was mounted around the interface, centred and tensioned. The operation took about 3 hours in total.
Then, the two umbilical connectors were connected for extended electrical tests, which are due to take place tomorrow.
Both spacecraft have been stacked together this afternoon in the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) clean room. The operation was conducted very smoothly as follows:
- Installation of hoisting device on top of Rumba
- Hoisting of Rumba above Tango
- Lowering of Rumba on top of Tango
- Installation of clamp band between the 2 satellites
- Positioning, centring and tensioning of the clamp band
The installation and tensioning of the clamp band is quite tricky as the workers have to operate on a specially made horizontal platform which gives access to the interface between the 2 spacecraft with a gap not exceeding 40 cm in width.
All mechanical, thermal and electrical activities have been completed on both spacecraft, FM 5 - Rumba and FM 8 - Tango, including the pyro line verification, before the stacking. These activities were ended with a detailed inspection of the solar panels.
The thermal blankets of the lower platform have been closed on FM 8 (Tango). For one engineer from Astrium Dornier, Peter Grossner, it was a rather emotional moment as it was the last blanket he will ever install on a spacecraft before his retirement at the end of the year. In total, he has spent 38 years in Dornier working on all German and most European spacecraft since the beginning of the space era, including Azur, the first German satellite. During the last 12 years, he has specialised in designing, manufacturing and installing thermal blankets on many satellites such as Cluster, Rosat etc.
Grounding measurements took place on FM 5 (Rumba) to verify proper mounting of the thermal blankets.
In the meantime, some packing work has started for the shipment back of the equipment due to take place end of August.
An end-to-end power test was carried out on FM 5 to ensure the correct connection of the batteries. The last red tag items were also removed.
Same activity as yesterday (battery and final balance masses installation), but this time on FM 5 (Rumba). In the meantime, an end-to-end power test was carried out on FM 8 to ensure the correct connection and functioning of the batteries. Then, the thermal blankets of the lower platform were closed on FM 8.
The team from Aerospatiale who will mount the clamp band on the adapter (ACU) arrived in Baikonur today.
The excitement of the first launch is now over. The successful launch (confirmed by ESOC) has been duly celebrated with a forced bath in the hotel swimming pool for some of the launch team members before they went back to Europe for a holiday!
The remaining people are now concentrating on the second launch and are already working on the packing of the first items for shipment back to Europe.
The two Cluster spacecraft that are still on the ground are resting on their stands in the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) clean room. Battery and final balance masses have been installed on FM 8 (Tango).