Sentinel-1 fuelled and ready
ESA’s first satellite dedicated to Europe’s environmental monitoring Copernicus programme has been fuelled and pressurised, ready for its launch on 3 April.
Since its arrival in Kourou, French Guiana a month ago, Sentinel-1A has been put through a series of stringent tests.
As well as ensuring that this new satellite hadn’t incurred any damage during transit from France, the tests included the lengthy process making sure its batteries charge from the solar wings and then release energy to the satellite as needed, as they would do in space.
The latest preparations have focused on fuelling. As this is an extremely hazardous task, the fuelling team has to wear special ‘scape suits’. Marking a milestone on the road to launch, the team finished loading the fuel last Friday and pressurised the tanks yesterday.
While the delicate task of fuelling was in process, the three stages of the Soyuz rocket were assembled. The launcher is now going through electrical checks. With the satellite fully loaded and pressurised, it is now being mated to the adapter before it joins Soyuz’s Fregat upper stage. It will then be encapsulated in the rocket fairing, sealed from view.