December 1, 2006

COROT enters home straight

CNES’s trailblazing COROT satellite is all set to embark on its quest for new worlds, with launch scheduled 27 December, 15:23 Paris time.
20 December 2006

After a launch campaign that started on 15 November, described by CNES’s Project Leader Thien Lam Trong as “uneventful”, COROT is in tip-top form. No anomalies were detected during a full series of tests on the satellite.

Checks had to be run last week for a suspected fuel leak in the launcher’s Fregat upper stage, but this proved a false alarm triggered by a ground system malfunction.

COROT safe inside its cocoon

In the days ahead, COROT will be encapsulated under its protective fairing. Once this upper composite is ready, assembly of the Soyuz launcher’s stages can begin.

After that, the Soyuz will be towed out to the launch pad still lying flat by a giant tractor, and then erected into position just 3 days before lift-off.

1 day lost, 4 minutes gained

It will then be time for final checks, concentrating mainly on radio links.
If the countdown has to be stopped on the 27 December launch date, COROT could be rescheduled 23 hours and 56 minutes later, the time taken for Earth to return to the same orientation relative to the stars that COROT plans to study. The launch can be rescheduled in the same way each day thereafter until departure.

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