2 December 1999Whilst XMM is quietly sitting inside the fairing of the launcher attention is moving from the Final Assembly building area to the S1 check-out room.
It is from this room full of electronic equipment and computers that the spacecraft is controlled and monitored at a distance via the umbilicals until the lift-off. The installation of the check-out room was already validated at the beginning of this year during the electrical tests of the spacecraft at ESTEC. The control team consists of 12 people led by Thomas Kaufungen who has been a member of the Dornier XMM team since 1995. His team includes four spacecraft operators, four specialised engineers and four engineers dealing with the electrical ground support equipment.
Since 30 November, all launch procedures are being rehearsed every day. The set-up of the spacecraft configuration takes about 1½ hour and can be restarted very rapidly in case of unforeseen events. On the day of the launch, the team will be at work 6 hours before the launch time in order to properly configure the spacecraft. The control team will be in contact by voice circuits to the ESA representatives of the Jupiter mission control room.
A new XMM is being built
No, the XMM team are not crazy to the point of building a clone of XMM! But whilst XMM is waiting to climb into space, another model of the spacecraft is being reassembled in Kourou. It is the upper part of the structural and thermal model of XMM (STM) with its upper module and the lower part of its telescope tube.
The STM is being assembled to be displayed at the Kourou Space Museum of Guiana Space Centre (CSG). Assembly should be finished in the next few days and the STM version of XMM should be on show inside the museum before launch day.
Fuelling and pressurization of the vehicle's Attitude Control System is continuing. Composed of two systems, operations on the lower one are finished; fuelling of the upper one is on-going. Preparations for fuelling of the Storable Propellant Stage are proceeding normally. The overall schedule is unchanged.