Europe Readies for the Moon
22 Jul 2003
July 22, 2003
The satellites are prepared for launch
The Spaceport's modern S5 satellite preparation facility in French Guiana is busy with activity as two of the three payloads for Flight 162 undergo their pre-launch preparations.
Our photos from the Spaceport in French Guiana show the European Space Agency's SMART-1 lunar spacecraft and INSAT-3E for the Indian Space Research Organisation as they are checked out in the S5 clean rooms. (Click on the photos for larger versions).
Technicians take a close look at one of the INSAT-3E satellite's solar panels in the S5C high-bay portion of the S5 facility. As part of pre-launch verifications, the Indian telecommunication spacecraft's solar panels are extended with the assistance of a special test rig for a final validation the deployment system. Flight 162 is set for a late August liftoff with INSAT-3E, SMART-1 and the e-BIRD satellite for Europe's Eutelsat.
The INSAT-3E satellite's solar panel is extended at the completion of its deployment test in the S5C high bay. Solar panels used on the INSAT series of telecommunications satellites generate up to 2,765 Watts of power. INSAT-3E was built under the responsibility of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and has a design lifetime of 15 years.
Europe's SMART-1 space probe is lowered onto the cone-shaped adapter that will serve as the mounting interface in the three-satellite payload "stack" for Flight 162. This compact lunar exploration spacecraft is built around a 157 x 115 x 104 cm. aluminum structure. SMART-1 is the first of the European Space Agency's Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology (SMART).
Mission team members secure the SMART-1 space probe atop its adapter during activity in the S5B high-bay. SMART-1 will be the first European spacecraft to travel to the Moon, and one of the technologies it will demonstrate is an electric primary propulsion system - called the Stationary Plasma Hall-effect thruster. The Swedish Space Corporation developed SMART-1.