Space | 16. June 2010

Two successful launches – that’s motivating!

There were recently two successful launches (our congratulations!) – the payloads of the Prisma and Picard missions were launched together from Yasny. We followed these events via their live streams online. As will be the case with TanDEM-X, a Dnepr launcher was used. Problems with the launcher would likely have affected our launch date. So obviously, we were relieved about the smooth launch. And TanDEM-X is next in line!

We had the chance to witness the launch of the Soyuz TMA-19 (ISS AF-23S). The ISS now has three new crewmembers. First we followed their departure by bus from the neighbouring hotel to the Cosmodrome. Then we went to the Kazakh steppe, to admire the night launch, at 03:35 local time. This early start was rewarded by an impressive performance; there was no shortage of breathtaking light and sound effects.

During the day, we worked in a bunker at launch silo again. The upper stage, and TanDEM-X with it, has been mounted on the launcher. We tested the connection to TanDEM-X via the umbilical, through the launcher, to the bunker.  We also recharged the battery, and again played through the procedure for closing the relay to activate the power supply shortly before launch. We are ready!

Two Astrium colleagues left for home yesterday. Michael Schmidhuber from the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) at DLR Oberpfaffenhofen arrived in Baikonur. This means reinforcements for the blog. We look forward to his contributions.

Since we do not have permission to release photos of the launch silo, we are posting two pictures of our regular drive to the Cosmodrome and back. For about 45 minutes, our bones rattle while travelling along the rough roads through the seemingly endless steppe.

Impressions of the drive through the steppe. Images: DLR.