Space | 24. June 2010

Uncanny but true – “Everything is running like clockwork”

The fourth mission day has dawned, and so far everything is running like clockwork. It sometimes seems almost uncanny to us, and an occasional funny remark about our now being able to slowly turn off the simulator makes the rounds. But in reality, we are obviously very pleased and happy about ‘our’ TanDEM-X. Because everything is running so smoothly, we are able to complete our activities earlier than planned and have even been able to slightly shorten our original timetable, so that we will have less need for a night shift.

Meanwhile, we are continuing with the remaining tests and are now about to minimise the friction of the reaction wheels. We achieve this by letting them run for several hours at very high rotation speeds. In the meanwhile, we have been able to complete the mission planning preparations described in previous blog entry and, after that, we were able to upload the commands to the satellite yesterday. These commands were executed today and the radar image data were sent to the ground station in Neustrelitz late in the afternoon.

For tomorrow, the uploading of a further series of radar image commands is planned; these are expected at any moment from our mission planning colleagues. In addition we plan to test a ‘left looking’ manoeuvre, in which we rotate the satellite about the flight-direction axis by about 60 degrees. In this manner, one can later expand the possible uses of TanDEM-X because it is becomes possible to acquire radar images from locations other than the nominal.

Since the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) ends at the weekend, we will take the opportunity tomorrow to bring it to a positive conclusion with a big group photo with all participants from Astrium and DLR.