08 July 2012

Post Scriptum

We have now received the MSG-3 first image. This is an evident proof that, after the successful launch on 05/07/2012,  the MSG-3 spacecraft is working very well and the LEOP and commissioning phases have been properly carried out. This is a reward for the all teams and staff that have been involved and which worked on this project for years now.

Just below, for memory, we offer the readers of this blog the first image taken by MSG-1 (METEOSAT-8) and MSG-2 (METEOSAT-9) respectively obtained in 2002 and 2006.

Long life to MSG-3 in orbit!

1-MSG-3 first image on 07/08/2012
Launch from Kourou 05/07/2012
2-MSG-2 first image on 25/01/2006
Launch from Kourou 21/12/2005
3-MSG-1 first image on 11/12/2002
Launch from Kourou on 28/08/2002


Dear all,
Today 08/07/2012, some team members have started to pack their respective gears and equipment at EPCU S5 while some others are starting their trip back to Europe.
As the MSG-3 launch campaign, performed during this spring 2012 is now progressively coming to an end, it is time to leave Kourou and say good bye to each of you. It has been a great pleasure to share these exciting moments together.

For a little bit more than three months, more than 90 posts have been published (almost in real time) and illustrated by about 650 pictures. The goal was to keep the link with people not in Kourou and to tell them what was going on here at CSG (...it seems that even people in Kourou came regularly to visit these pages... :-). In parallel of the campaign reporting, we tried also to report few aspects of this unique and still very unknown place called French Guiana.  Considering the positive feed back we received as well as the number of connections, the outcome has definitely exceeded our expectations. After the campaign, we may consider to collect these pages on a CD or a DVD together with some other Launch Campaign material.

It is impossible to conclude this last message without emphasizing the outstanding performance of the THALES team (the Prime Contractor of the MSG programme): the talent and dedication of each individual in all disciplines has made this success possible. Congratulations!

Now, what is better than looking through a window to guess what the future will be?
Here above you can see a rare (or let's say unusual) picture taken in the THALES clean room at Cannes in December 2011. At that time the MSG-3 solar panels were put on a jig to enable an exhaustive solar cell inspection. One can see on this picture that through the large SEVIRI "hole" it is not  Earth (as it should be seen from space) but the 4th Model of the MSG series, i.e. MSG-4 spacecraft...
Through this "window" we can contemplate our future, i.e. the job waiting for us for the next two years: complete integration, testing and getting MSG-4 ready for a launch early 2015 (TBC) in order to take over MSG-2 which will become 10 years old at that time.

But back to recent events, roughly 48 hours after the launch, last news from the MSG-3 LEOP team are good: there are still few important milestones to be completed in the next 10 days but the first critical steps have been successfully completed. Our "baby" is in good health and doing well. Click here for a LEOP status update.

Before to leave you, thanks again for your interest and your friendly support.

From French Guiana with love!
Kirill Blogovitch

06 July 2012

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All pictures, Credits: Christine
"Emergence" or  leatherback sea turtles 's birth at Remire Montjoly beach, 03/07/2012

05 July 2012

What will happen to MSG-3 in the next days after launch?

After the launch, a new phase called LEOP will start. LEOP stands for Launch Early Operation Phase. This phase will aim to put MSG-3 in its final configuration and orbit where it will be ready to perform its mission. It will last about 10 days will end with the MSG-3 handover to EUMETSAT (the operator of the spacecraft). LEOP will be continued by the commissioning phase.
Just after launch, some of our Thales colleagues from Kourou and Cannes will join now very rapidly ESOC in Darmstadt, the European Space Operation Center, where these LEOP activities will be performed together with ESA and EUMETSAT.

The next LEOP milestones are summarized below:
(Real status in RED, according to info from the LEOP team)
  •  Launch 05/07/2012 18:36 (Kourou) 23:36 (CET)
  • Launch T+ 34 minutes: MSG-3 separation from the launcher (Malindi tracking station acquisition); Successfully performed
  • T+ 4 hours, 1st spin up (55rpm): Successfully performed
  • T+37 hours, First Apogee Engine firing by LAM: Successfully performed
  • T+62 hours, Second Apogee Engine firing by LAM: Successfully performed
  • T+ 111 hours, third Apogee Engine firing by LAM: Successfully performed
  • T+134 hours, fourth Apogee Engine firing by LAM: Successfully performed
  • T+ 6 days and ca 8,5 hours, Spin axis erection* (1st part): Successfully performed
  • T+ 6 days and ca 14 hours, Spin axis erection* (2nd part): Successfully performed
  • T+ 8 days and 6 hours, (13/07/2012 @ 06:06 am CET), Cover cooler and SEVIRI baffle cover release: Successfully performed
  • T+ 8 days and 9 hours, (13/07/2012 @ 09:06 am CET), Spin up to 99.8 rpm: Successfully performed
  • T+ 8 days and 9,5 hours (13/07/2012 @ 9:36 am CET) Start of SEVIRI operations...: Successfully performed
  •  SEVIRI scan mechanism released, mirror moved from its launch position to a position in the the operational range: Successfully performed
  • T+ 9 days and 22 hours, Circularisation maneuver: Successfully performed
  • T+10 days and 9,5 hours (16/07/2012 @ 9:30am CET) Start of ESOC to EUMETSAT handover and end of the LEOP**: Successfully performed
*Up to that stage, the vertical axis of the spacecraft  (or spin axis) is within the orbital plane. The goal of the spin axis erection is to get it perpendicular to the orbital plane in order that the SEVIRI can "look" at Earth.
** For more information about the end of the LEOP phase, click here.

Successful Launch!

Few days ago on the Remire Montjoly beach, some of us saw baby turtles hatching from the eggs laid by the huge leatherback sea turtles last April. These three months of incubating period correspond exactly  to the duration of our MSG-3 launch campaign in French Guiana.

Credits: Christine
Like this small turtle entering the new sea world, MSG-3 enters, since the successful launch of this evening, its trip into deep space. For sure both need a bit of time and preparation before they become adults able to fully perform their respective missions. They will have to face multiple dangers and hostile environment...
As we wait for the first news coming from our "baby", let's wish them anyhow a good trip into their respective media and, on the top of that, a fascinating life!
Don't we say that turtles can live more than 100years? ... A good perspective for MSG :-)

Few pictures of the launch


10- Boosters separation
All pictures: Credits: Shaf

VA207 main Flight events

Here under, the main VA207 mission events are summarised:
  • T 0 Reference time
  • T+1 sec, EPC (Etage Propulsion Cryogénique/ Main Cryogenic Stage) ignition
  • T+7,05 sec, EAP1&2 (Etage d'Accéleration à poudre/Solid Booster 1 and 2) ignition
  • T+ 7,5 sec Lift-off
  • T+2 min 30 sec, EAP jettison
  • T+3 min 30 sec, Fairing jettison
  • T+9 min EPC jettison and ESC-A (Etage Superieur à poudre/Upper Cryogenic Engine A ignition
  • T+ 25 min, ESC-A cut-off command
  • T+28 min Echostar-XVII separation command
  • T+34 min MSG-3 separation command
Credits Arianespace: from Ariane 5 User Manual

Launch Day 05/07/2012

Follow MSG-3 launch live on ESA, Eumetsat or Arianespace websites.

07:15 am @ EPCU S5C North (Kourou time).  D - Day has started.
Let's start this message with an Arianespace picture taken yesterday (04/07/2012): the Launch vehicle on the ELA-3 Launch pad
Credits: Arianespace
09:36 am (L-9 hours) All Thales people in place at LBC-1. Countdown started. Spacecraft ON
An overall view of the LBC
A nice view on the launcher from the water tower (TV monitor in LBC-1)
11:24 am (L-7h 12mn). LBC-1 to Jupiter: MSG-3 status nominal
In the meantime, our mascot, Toco, joined the LBC-1...
12:26 (L-6h 10min). MSG-3 RF (Radio Frequency) Transmitter ON. On the background below the "RF corner" with Jean-Paul and Patrick (on the right). On the foreground all the Telemetry monitoring screens
13:25 (L-5h 11nin) All parameters are green. Few minutes later, 2 weather forecast reports: High winds and general weather forecast briefing. Green. Authorisation to fuel the Launch vehicle has been given.
14:21 (L-4h 15 min). MSG-3 started battery charging.
14:28 (L-4h 08 min). EPC (Etage de Propulsion Cryogénique/Cryogenic Propulsion Stage) fuelling started
15:08 (L-3h 28 min) ESC (Etage Supérieur Cryogénique/Upper Cryogenic stage) fuelling
15:31 (L-3h 05 min ) MSG-3  reported parameters from LBC-1 to Jupiter are green

16:36 (L-2h 00 min) MSG-3 spacecraft status is green. Here under, a snapshot of the Launch vehicle from the TV monitor in LBC-1. Weather looks fine.
17:11 (L-1h 25mn) : Jean Claude giving the Spacecraft status to CPS (Chef de Projet Satellite/Head of Satellite Project) in Jupiter: MSG-3 status Green
ca 17:15 "Ratissage" at EPCU i.e. All unauthorised personnel is kindly asked to leave the EPCU S5 for safety reasons.
Hugues our RMCU (Responsble Moyen Charge Utile/Payload Responsible) at EPCU during the campaign is carefully checking the list of names.
17:36 (L-1 hour). MSG-3 status is green. All other launch parameters are green. The clock below gives the UT (Universal Time) and the exact L -1 hour of the chronology...
18:16 (L-20 min) MSG-3 has been turned to internal power.
18:25 (L-11 min), RPS confirms to CPS Jupiter that MSG-3 status is green.
18:29 (L-7 minutes) start of the synchronised sequence of the launcher.
18:36 Lift-off
VA 207 pass over the EPCU

L+34 minutes MSG-3 separated from the launcher: Mission is declared successful!
It is time to celebrate this outstanding team work. This campaign was a great human and technical experience and all will certainly create long life memories.
Here below the LBC-1 team.
Now all will join the party with the the rest of the team in Jupiter and all other guests of the Arianespace party :-)

04 July 2012

Getting prepared...

After so many efforts,  tomorrow will be "le grand soir" for MSG-3! So let's now get prepared.
Part of the MSG-3 team will be in LBC-1 room at EPCU S5 North in CSG. This LBC room, already introduced to the reader of this blog, contains all the EGSE (equipment bays) that are connected with the spacecraft. From there, all parameters related to the MSG-3 spacecraft are monitored and will be transmitted as needed to the Jupiter room (Control center) tomorrow during the count down.
Here above is an overall view of the LBC-1 rather empty this after noon. Below, Jean-Claude is testing a voice loop equipment to make sure that the communications with Jupiter work well. So no surprise tomorrow. During the countdown, he will act as RPS i.e. Resposable Préparation Satellite/Spacecraft Preparation Responsible.
Two monitor screens have been set in order that what is happening on the launch pad can be seen from LBC-1 . Tomorrow, a view of the Jupiter control room will also be available.
Everything looks fine. The last thing to think about is the dress code for tomorrow. Given instructions require white shirts for all. So the MSG-3 team members have still few hours to iron their launch crew gear in order to remove any unpleasant wrinkles or to pick up their laundry before 19:30 tonight at Georgette's laundry.
Finally, for those not in French Guiana, and interested to follow the launch, click here to reach the ESA web site which will broadcast the live video transmission of the VA 207 launch.
Eumetsat is also covering the launch from their website (click here).