8 December 1999On Tuesday 7 December, the XMM team had a last peak at their baby, through a small opening in the Ariane-5 fairing. It was through this small hatch that the spacecraft was armed.
This operation involved removing the last red-tag items (six connectors not required for flight), the installation of arming plugs (green tag items), the verification of the electrical connections and the installation of the thermal protection (MLI blanket) on the plugs and connectors.
For this difficult job technicians had to work in a horizontal position on a so-called diving board, in order to access the inside of the fairing through the small door. Four different people - with the essential requirement of very long arms - were involved, under supervision of Product Assurance staff.
The purge of the satellite (nitrogen for the Optical Monitor and synthetic air for the telescope tube i.e. the inside of the Spacecraft) is continuing and is regularly checked. After the dress rehearsal exercise, the battery has been discharged and recharged in order to have it fully loaded on Day 0.
Launch Readiness Reviews
Another important milestone took place on 7 December with the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) of the satellite, at which ESA management gave its green light for the launch. It will be followed on 8 December by the RAL review (Revue d'Aptitude au Lancement) concerning the launcher itself.
The Ground Support team has a feminine side