Spacecraft and Launcher Under One Roof
22 November 1999After the launcher fuelling and countdown rehearsal, Ariane 504 returned on 20 November from the launch zone to be positioned in the Final Assembly Building. The launcher and its payload are now under the same roof albeit on different sides of the building.
XMM is still in the ground floor preparation area, whilst Ariane 5 towers in the scaffolding of the launcher dock alongside.
The sun shield of the XMM telescope (TSS) was the first to climb to the upper floor where the satellite will be mated to the launcher. It was an impressive sight on November 22nd as the sun shield was hoisted to this level via a so-called 'chimney' and a foretaste of things to come, when the spacecraft itself will follow the same way in a few days.
A member of the ESA XMM project team, watching the sunshield arrive alongside Ariane 504 expressed his excitement. "The launch really is coming soon!", a reflection of the general mood amongst all those involved in the satellite campaign in Kourou. Meanwhile back across the Atlantic, the presskits are being printed and hundreds of invitations to follow the launch coverage at different sites across Europe are being posted.
Children Winners Galileo Competition
Perhaps the most excited spectators when Ariane 504 was brought to the Final Assembly Building were several dozen young winners of the ESA XMM "What's new Galileo" competition. Three classes from Norway, England and Spain watched from the Orchidée viewing site, just outside the safety perimeter of the forward zone.
Just before seeing the Ariane rocket, the school children had attended a presentation about the European SpacePort, held in the amphi theater of the Jupiter Mission Control. They also posed for photographs in front of the full-scale mode of Ariane 5 that stands besides the Jupiter building.
The latest three school groups to visit French Guiana were from Enebakk Ungdomsskole, Enebakk, Norway, the Haggerston School for Girls, Weymouth Terrace, Shoreditch, and Colegio El Ave Maria, Benimamet (Valencia). They were accompanied by ESA staff Ann Kristin Engan, Silvia Madrid Pariete and Ann Dougal.