Gaia launcher separation test (close-up view)
A test of the separation mechanism that will free Gaia from its launcher's upper stage being conducted at Astrium Toulouse. The Gaia Service Module (SVM) is suspended from an overhead crane with the Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) attached using a clamp band. Compressed gas is fed to the clamp band locking mechanism via a quick-opening valve. Gravity is used to effect the separation, with the springs that will be used during launch in place but locked so that they just touched the spacecraft's interface ring. As the LVA falls away from the SVM, it lands on a cushioned protector.
At the start of the video, the threaded fasteners holding the clamp band closed can be seen near the top centre of the screen. Between them are the flywheel and its locking mechanism, with the hose that supplies the compressed gas.
After separation, the clamp band is retained on the LVA by a set of brackets. The now disengaged fasteners can be seen in the clamp band end plates.