2006 Events

 
  • Successful launch of the CoRoT satellite, on 27 December 2006

The CoRoT satellite was launched today and is now on its polar orbit, at the altitude of 896 km. The Soyuz 2-1B performed its maiden flight in a perfect way, with a separation of CoRoT over South Pacific 50 minutes after lift-off. The very first telemetry data show that the Proteus bus is in good shape. The satellite is in a BBQ AOCS mode, with Sun in the back. All the equipment (GPS, gyros, star trackers, reaction wheels) will be set to ON tomorrow, with a start of the inertial pointing mode on 29 December. The system and satellite teams are on deck to perform this phase of early operations.

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • Soyuz launcher ready for flight, on 24 December 2006

At dawn on this Christmas Eve, the Soyuz launcher was erected on the launch pad #6 in the Baikonour cosmodrome. CoRoT will take off over the Kazakh steppe on Wednesday 27 December at 14:23 UT: a great thrill for the Satellite Mission Director and his team, located at 400 meters from the launch table in the customer bunker. Talking with the Main Control Room in Toulouse through a satellite link, they will here perform the countdown activities for 10 hours.
Separated after 50 minutes at the altitude of 900 km, CoRoT will fly over the ground station of Hartebeesthoek 28 minutes later. The telemetry received by the Control Center in Toulouse will make it possible to give a first diagnosis of good health, after solar wings deployment (automatic sequence). Two hours later, the Fregat upper stage will reenter the atmosphere, ending the launcher mission.

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • Integration of the upper composite, on 18 December 2006

Today, the CoRoT satellite coupled with the Fregat upper stage were tipped down into horizontal position for encapsulation.
Tomorrow evening, the upper composite will leave by train the MIK 112 to get to the MIK 40, the launch pad facility hosting the Soyuz tri-stage vehicle.
The mission logo will then be sticked on the fairing!

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • The combined activities are going well, on 14 December 2006

The CoRoT spacecraft, coupled with the launch vehicle adaptor (CASA), is now ready for stacking. Once mounted on the Fregat upper stage (imminent step), the battery will be connected and the no-flight items will be removed. The Nose Module (Fregat, adaptor, satellite) will be tipped down for encapsulation. Today, the Soyuz fairing arrived at UCIF for cleaning in the airlock.

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • CoRoT Flight Operations Readiness Review, on 11 December 2006

The ORR, convened at the Toulouse Space Center on 11 December 2006, had the objective to end the system qualification phase and to authorize the launch and commissioning operations.
A final dress rehearsal will take place on 21 December from the Main Control Room in Toulouse and with Baikonour cosmodrome (launch pad) and Fregat Flight Monitoring Center in Moscow.

Agenda

  • Report of the system qualification tests
  • Preparation of commissioning phase (LEOP, beginning of life calibration, cover opening, station acquisition phase, first observing run)
  • Proofreading of operational documents and file checks
  • Status of the scientific processing chain
  • System assurance quality
 
  • After several days of preparation, the satellite's tank was full by 30 November 2006

Today, the satellite's tank (40 l) was filled with hydrazine. This operation, particularly dangerous (hydrazine is highly poisonous), was carried out by the Alcatel fuelers (in protective suit below).
The surrounding area at HPF had been scrupulously secured before, and great care has been taken to ensure drums and fuelling lines were completely tight.
The CoRoT satellite is now set to be transferred to UCIF for mating.

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • The preparation operations for launch are going well in Baïkonour, on 28 November 2006

Following a series of successful health functional tests, the spacecraft was transferred to HPF, a highly monitored clean room dedicated to fuelling operations (hydrazine).
In the meantime, the dispatching of the electrical hardware is going on, at MIK 40 and on the launch pad. A first countdown system test with Main Control Room in Toulouse is scheduled this week.
It has been snowing for a few days in Baïkonour, and the temperature has dropped to -23°C. But the project team is facing up!

  
You will find more pictures of this campaign in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • Shipment of the satellite to the Baïkonour Space Center on 14 November 2006

The loading operations of the spacecraft container on board the Antonov 124 (at Nice airport) gave the signal to start the launch campaign.
The satellite container, arrived at Baïkonour the following day after customs clearance in Moscow, was transferred by train to the MIK 112 building, where will take place the launch preparation operations for the next 4 weeks. Launch date of 21 December 2006 has been confirmed by Starsem.

  
You will find more pictures of this event in the "LAUNCH CAMPAIGN" menu.

 
  • Official opening and press conference of the exhibition Planets elsewhere, at Marseilles Natural History Museum, on 11 September 2006

The exhibition Planets elsewhere, with CNES participation, tells the story of the scientific exploration of our Solar System and the discovery of the first extrasolar planets. A thematic room is devoted to the CoRoT mission, reminding in particular the role played by LAM in the conception of the telescope. The objectives of the mission and the level of performance to reach for terrestrial planets' detection from space are there explained and illustrated for public. A series of conferences with scientists working in search for exoplanets or exobiology is proposed during all the exhibition (till 14 January 2007).

  
You will find more pictures of this event in the "MEDIA GALLERY" menu.

For more information about this event, please visit the Natural History Museum web site.
 

 
  • Flight Acceptance Review, in Cannes, from 5 to 7 September 2006

This review board meeting, jointly organized by CNES and Thales Alenia Space teams, had the objective to pronounce technical qualification of the CoRoT satellite before moving to Baikonour. This major milestone took place after the spacecraft has completed all environmental and functional system testing successfully and shown that the telescope works well together in harmony with the vehicule operations.

Agenda

  • Inventory and review of qualification tests
  • Technical status of on-board functional chains
  • Launcher interfaces
  • Shipment operations and spacecraft final preparation on launch site
  • Product assurance


 

 
  • 10th CoRoT WEEK from 5 to 9 June 2006 in Nice

For more information about this event, please visit the Nice Observatory web site.
 

 
  • First system validation tests at the CoRoT Mission Center, in Toulouse, from 11 to 13 April 2006
 

  
You will find more pictures of this event in the "MEDIA GALLERY" menu.
 

The CoRoT Mission Center software, accepted in Madrid on 7 April 2006, run for the first time at the Toulouse Space Center during this week of system tests. These tests consisted in performing the station acquisition operations of the telescope as they will be done in orbit. They called the complete set of software tools developed to calibrate, command and control the instrument. The on-board photometric chains to acquire and process the images were simulated by the payload test bench, delivered and installed by LESIA at the beginning of this year. The bench is presently intensely used for operability tests, as well as for the scientific validation of the on-board software.

 
  • Safety trip to Baïkonour, from 3 to 7 April 2006
     

  
You will find more pictures of this event in the "MEDIA GALLERY" menu.
 

The purpose of this trip (the third one) of the project team to Baïkonour was to focus on the safety questions, as a preliminary to the preparation of the satellite launch campaign.

 
  • Mechanical qualification tests, in Cannes, from 10 February to 4 April 2006
     

  
You can also download the following movie about these tests.
 

During this test campaign, the CoRoT spacecraft, firstly on a shaker then in an acoustic chamber, was submitted to the mechanical environment existing when launched.
The satellite was mechanically and electrically coupled with the launch vehicle adapter (CASA) for fit-check and separation test.
On 4 April, a test consisting in deploying the solar wings (using the pyrotechnic release mechanism) was successfully performed.


You will find more pictures of this event in the "MEDIA GALLERY" menu.

 
  • System Validation Preparation Review, 31 January 2006
     

This key-review, convened at the Toulouse Space Center on 31 January 2006, has authorized the project team to start the system validation phase.

Agenda

  • Report of the compatibility test phase
  • Status of the components
  • Integration/validation of the CMC
  • System tests specification and planning
  • Operation/staffing plan
  • Preparation for launch and commissioning
  • Assurance quality
 
  • Beginning of the CoRoT satellite validation/integration phase, on 6 January 2006
     

  
You will find more pictures of this event in the "MEDIA GALLERY" menu.
 

Two days after its delivery in Cannes, the CoRoT payload was mechanically mated with the Proteus bus. The electrical connection was performed in the next few days. We'll remember this week as the birthday of the CoRoT satellite, and these activities are the very first ones of the ultimate phase of environment and functionnal tests, which should go on till August 2006. Thales Alenia Space, as industrial architect of the CoRoT spacecraft, is in charge of these activities.