Integration of TanDEM-X with the launcher begins!
I have now settled myself in Baikonur and become acquainted with everyday issues. As of last Tuesday, I have replaced my colleague Michael Bartusch as the project management representative of the space agency here at the launch site. I will be reporting about the TanDEM-X satellite (TDX) on this blog up until the launch.
Preparations for the launch during the last few weeks have gone very well. The team has had time for a little bit of recreation in recent days. Part of the team returned to Germany on Tuesday. Those that remained behind have been preparing equipment that is no longer required for shipment and performing a final visual inspection of the spacecraft. Tomorrow, the integration of the satellite with the launcher’s upper stage is scheduled to start.
The TanDEM-X solar panel is subjected to a final visual inspection. Image: DLR.
Since my arrival, we have had constant blue skies and temperatures just a little below 40°C. On Wednesday 2 June, Baikonur celebrated its 55th birthday. There were performances in the stadium, a procession, a Miss Baikonur contest, music and fireworks. Young and old strolled around the town’s pedestrian area until late into the Kazakh night.
On Friday at 04:00, we got a foretaste of the TDX launch. We were allowed to watch as BADR-5 – an Arabsat telecommunications satellite – was lifted into orbit with lots of noise and light on board a Proton launch vehicle. Hopefully, our launch will go as smoothly as this one. A video clip of the launch can be found here.
Lower images: In the sports stadium, Baikonur celebrates the 55th anniversary of its founding. Images: DLR.