By Todd Schilb, Senior Program Manager, Space Systems Acquisition
Just days ago, a meeting of the State Commission here in Kazakhstan convened to authorize the transfer of the ILV to the launch pad. Eric Eller, launch vehicle manager from SSL (the manufacturer of the satellite) and I addressed the head representative of the committee to provide the official go-ahead for the spacecraft. This is a very formal convening that brings us one step closer to launch.
As I write this post, we are in the final phase of the launch campaign for the Intelsat 31 satellite. The Integrated Launch Vehicle (ILV), comprised of the Proton rocket and the fairing safely stowing the IS-31 satellite, is fully assembled and flight ready.
The following day, the entire IS-31 team here in Baikonur Cosmodrome participated in a long-held launch base tradition: the viewing of the roll-out. We gathered outside the Breeze-M fueling shed at 6:00 a.m. to watch the ILV emerge down a two-kilometer track on its way to the launch pad. It is much more agreeable to view this in June than in February, but no matter the temperature, this is one of the most exciting moments of every launch campaign.
Once the ILV arrived at the pad later that morning, we initiated three days of preparation and tests before the start of the final countdown.
One of the “riskier” operations during this time is putting an engineer in front of a camera to make a statement for the launch broadcast; here I am making my attempt by the pad:
Fortunately, we are better engineers than broadcasters!
Watch the launch broadcast live Wednesday, 8 June, at 7:10 UTC/3:10 a.m. EDT to see my statement…and, more importantly, the launch of Intelsat 31 at www.intelsat.com. Go #Intelsat31!