Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The final countdown... Part 2 D-10 16th November 2015

After a somewhat brutal alarm awakening at 02:45 this morning, myself and 3 others have made our way in fo a very early start at 04:00 in order to complete the removal of the remaining non-flight items from the spacecraft and to perform what should be, the last ever inspection.

Today is launch day -10, encapsulation day.

The so called "red tag" items are protective covers for the various sensitive equipments mounted to the spacecraft.  We aim to keep these on fo as long as possible and only ever remove them for specific testing or (as now) for flight.  They cover items such as thrusters, protecting them in terms of both cleanliness and also from accidental damage during other activities (such as lifting).  In addition, we also have remove before flight covers on our optical equipments, such as the Sun Sensors and Star Trackers.  

For the last inspection, this is the last opportunity for myself and my colleague to pick up any issues and have them corrected.  

After the inspection, we perform a full "accountability" check of all the various emove before flight/install for flight items.  We have to be absolutely sue that every item that should have been removed has been and every item that had to be installed for flight has been.  All the items then get stored securly until the  spacecraft is successfully commissioned in flight.  

With everything confirmed to have been completed, we are ready to encapsulate the spacecraft within the fairing of the rocket.  This is the last time human eyes will fall upon this spacecraft, going, going, gone!  Now encapsulated, the fairing, will act like a mobile clean room until it is jettisoned around 4 minutes after lift off.  

Image Copyright ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut, 2015

Image Copyright ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut, 2015

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