Launch Site Operations

Spacecraft travel either by air or on air-cushioned trailers. Crews record vibration during transport, and spacecraft packaging conforms to the specified environment. Launch-site operations include installing and validating the test equipment (EAGE), testing the spacecraft's performance, installing propulsion (AKM), loading propellant, mating the spacecraft to its launch vehicle, installing ordnance, and monitoring. Crews may also install flight batteries at the launch site. Figure 12-6 shows a typical flow of launch-site activities.

Fig. 12-6. Typical Launch-Site Activities. The time required for launch site activity may vary from several months to several days.

Normally, one of the launch-site test hangars houses the spacecraft test set for performance testing nearby. Crews install propulsion in an explosive ordnance area. They mate the launch vehicle and spacecraft, load propellant, and install ordnance on stand. Trained people conduct these hazardous tasks, using appropriate equipment and safeguards. Some spacecraft components can be replaced at the launch site and even on stand, but restricted access to the spacecraft usually makes replacement difficult Much time at the launch site goes simply to monitoring the spacecraft's state of health through hard-line connections or, dining some integrated tests, through RF links. Spacecraft commanding is strictly controlled. Launch procedures include configuring the spacecraft for launch and removing hard lines.


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