| Space

TanDEM-X is on its way to Baikonur!

The last few weeks have been especially tough for TanDEM-X. At IABG in Ottobrunn, near Munich, the satellite had to undergo tests under simulated space conditions. Vibration and high-intensity noise tests were included on this programme, which aimed to ensure that the satellite was indeed capable of contending with the mechanical and acoustic loads that are imposed during a launch. The interaction of the satellite with its control room in Oberpfaffenhofen has also been tested via a data link and it passed with flying colours – an important prerequisite for commencing satellite operations after separating from the launcher.

On 21 June 2010 at 08:14 local time in Baikonur – 04:14 Central European Summer Time (CEST) – the launch button will be pressed and the rocket will be propelled out of its launch canister in the silo using high-pressure provided by a solid-propellant gas generator. The rocket motors will ignite immediately after ejection from the canister and the flight begins in a southerly direction that will place TanDEM-X in orbit over Earth’s polar regions. A quarter of an hour later, at the latitude of the Equator and to the east of Africa, the launcher will reach the selected orbit and the satellite will be released into space. It will overfly Madagascar and then we will wait impatiently for its first signals, which we expect at the earliest after a further quarter of an hour. They should be received via Norway’s ‘Troll’ ground station in the Antarctic. The second contact with a ground station will not be until the satellite is above Svalbard, on the island of Spitzbergen in the Arctic Ocean – because it first has to cross the Antarctic and then the Pacific, this time on a northerly course.

However, first, let’s look towards Baikonur. From there, Michael Bartusch will be reporting for our next blog entry. He is the project manager for the TanDEM-X mission, and will be keeping a close eye on the satellite over the next few weeks.