Fit-Check and Release Shock Test Successfully Passed: First Mating of Sentinel-5p Satellite on the Rockot Launch Vehicle Adapter
The launch service for European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5p satellite on the Rockot launch vehicle reached an important project milestone during this week. In the frame of the satellite’s test campaign at the facilities of Intespace, Toulouse, Sentinel-5p has been mated for the first time on its dedicated launch vehicle adapter. This adapter system will attach the spacecraft to the Rockot carrier during its travel into space and will eventually release the satellite into the target orbit.
The mating exercise, the so-called fit-check, aimed at verifying the mechanical and electrical interfaces between the Sentinel-5p satellite, built by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, and the launcher hardware, manufactured by the rocketry company Khrunichev Research and Production Space Centre. The purpose of a fit-check is ensuring a successful integration of the spacecraft onto Rockot at the launch complex and a check of the umbilical connections between the launcher and its payload. For the Sentinel-5p mission, the fit-check was further used to verify a customized purging system which was integrated into the adapter allowing the satellite customer to flush its contamination-sensitive instrument through the satellite-launcher interface during ground operations.
The actual attachment of the Sentinel-5p satellite to its launch adapter is by means of a clamp band mechanism developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Madrid (formerly CASA Espacio). The clamp band is applied with high tension along the spacecraft-launch vehicle interface. The release of the satellite in space is achieved by firing pyro charges which spontaneously opens the clamp and hence allows separation. As the flawless functioning of the release is essential for a launch success, it was tested following the mating under recording the induced shock loads levels.
Fit-check and release shock test have been conducted successfully on February 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in a remarkable team effort by Airbus Defence & Space, Khrunichev Space Centre, European Space Agency and Eurockot.