Multi-Layer Insulation In Place
19 November 1999Following the fuelling of the spacecraft, all the propellant and pressurant loading equipment (PPLE) that was used has now been decontaminated in the S3A building at the European spaceport.
After ultimate inspections, the black insulation (MLI) around the propellant tanks that had been removed for the fuelling has now been replaced. XMM is now "fully dressed" for its space mission.
The now concealed interior of the spacecraft includes a myriad of electrical wires and connections. No one knows this harness better than Dornier's Jurgen Lang and his team (Georgia Filipovic, Jurgen Dentler, Manfred Hoess, Ulrich Woessner and Klaus Bubeck).
Lang (who worked previously on the IPS and ERS programmes) has been responsible for the building, the installation and the verification of several hundred kilometres of cables on XMM, weighing some 150 kg, with 56 000 connections.
Building harnesses for spacecraft is a very delicate activity, as the staff of CASA also knows. The Spanish company participated in their manufacture. Soldering and crimping connectors has to be perfect and cleanly done so as to avoid short circuits or any other electrical problem.
There often is not much space to install these bundles of cables, access is difficult and the task not easy.
Most of the time, Jurgen and his team have been the first to work on a part of the spacecraft and the last to intervene, connecting and disconnecting the harness to allow other colleagues to work.
Jurgen and his team pride themselves that they made no mistakes during the development and construction of the spacecraft, and that the work has been completed on time and within budget. A satisfaction shared by A. Crespo and A. Menendez from CASA.
To thank them and to celebrate the end of fuelling activities, Philippe Kletzkine, XMM AIV manager convened everyone to a small party at the Mercure Hotel.
Representatives from Dornier, ESA, Arianespace and the Guiana Space Centre were also present.
Whilst the campaign teams have pursued their tasks, XMM's project manager has taken time out to present the mission to local authorities, notably at the Cayenne Chamber of Commerce and of Industry.
He also met some 350 children and their teachers in several schools in Cayenne and in Kourou. The presentations had been organised by Jean-Paul Paillé, Head of Public Relations Office of ESA in Kourou.
Robert Lainé greatly enjoyed sharing his XMM experience and wide knowledge of space activities with his very attentive and inquisitive audiences. It reminded him, he recalls, of the time when he himself was a teacher at the Ecole des Apprentis Mécaniciens de l'Air at Saintes, France in the late 60's. These presentations also obtained good coverage on the local TV and in the press.
The big drop
Safety requirements at a launch site sometimes bring unexpected pleasures for those involved in a satellite campaign. That was the case a few days before the Ariane 504 launch was brought into the Final Assembly Building.
Given the presence of the Solid Propellant boosters, it is required that all personnel present in the BAF be able to evacuate the building very rapidly in case of an emergency.
When people are working on the upper levels of the scaffolding surrounding the launcher, particularly the payload and fairing levels, evacuation is carried out by sliding down a chute, a kind of narrow sock, that brings a person very smartly down to ground level.
So all members of the XMM campaign team practiced the "big drop" on 17 November just before the launcher arrived in the BAF. Sliding down several floors in the obscurity of the chute was greatly appreciated, after some initial apprehension!