YES2 in orbit
Posted on Friday, September 14, 2007
YES2 had a flawless ride to Low Earth Orbit today lifting off from Baikonur Space Center at 13:00 CET sharp (more at ESA's webportal). Back here at ESTEC, a pretty large crowd gathered to witness the launch via a live satellite link. The weird thing with these Russian launches is that they don't have a countdown, so while an ESA official was filling the silence with everybody awaiting the launch, suddenly the rocket engines lit up, the tower cleared away, and the rocket lifted off from the launch pad with a big roar. In less than 3 minutes, the cameras couldn't see the rocket anymore and the only news of a succesful orbit insertion came some 9 minutes after lift-off when a voice over a barely hearable telephone line from TsUP, Moskow Mission control, gave the good news of an all-nominal mission....that was it! Somewhat of an anti climax. But alas, the real YES2 mission will anyway not start before September 24th when the command is issued to release the Fotino capsule from Foton and the 30-km tether will swing the capsule to a targeted landingsite on the Kazach steppe. I hear there is a 'silence' policy over at ESA in terms of covering the actual YES2 mission as it unfolds (after all, it could go wrong...duh!?), so I'll try to give you some updates here and there although its probably gonna be sparse because I am not in the direct loop anymore and I have some other priorities to take care of. The YES2 team will be over at TsUP at the moment supreme so there is always the YES2 blog. Btw, did any of you try to watch the event online? Did it work? I got a message saying the live stream was down before it even started (what's the phrase again '...its no rocket science...!?'). Ps, video of the launch I captured at ESTEC is coming. I am presently in a restaurant in Leiden with a very(!) asynchronous connection (upload very tight), so will do this over the weekend.