After the succes, on July 6, of the military launch that preceded us, the consolidation of SMOS satellite launch date continues with the realisation of an important step in the manufacture of our Rockot launcher.
The Rockot launcher is the result of the conversion of strategic weapons done in application of the START treaty (Strategic Armaments Reduction Talks), signed in 1991. By this treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union decided the destruction of some medium-range nuclear missiles such as SS-19. Instead of physically destroying these weapons, it was authorized to use these military missiles for commercial and civil aims. Thanks to this accord, the first and second stages of the SS-19 medium-range missile have been reconcerted to give birth to the commercial launcher Rockot with the addition of a third stage Breeze KM. With this additional stage, the Rockot launcher can carry payloads in low orbit up to two tonnes. The SS-19 missile which was attributed to SMOS was built in 1986 and was stored on the Plesetsk spaceport (Russia) since 2006.
The Initial Tests Review of our Breeze KM motor took place with success at Khrounitchev on August 12, 2009. The review confirmed that the first part of the electrical and functional tests of our Breeze-KM - serial number 72513 - motor was nominal. This first tests campaign enabled to verify on a bench configuration that the whole equipments had a nominal performance. The electric integration phase that followed is now ended. A second functional tests campaign will now begin until the end of August and thus the result will enable to formally authorize the shipping of our motor to the launch site. After the results of the first tests one can be reasonably optimist for the end of this tests campaign. The shipping of our motor should happen at the beginning of September. SMOS launch date thus stay scheduled for November 2, 2009.
The visit of the production facilities in Khrunichev enabled a CNES and ESA delegation to verify that the different elements needed for our launcher were nearly finished: