Solar Dynamics Observatory: Propulsion Integration

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Solar Dynamics Observatory: Propulsion Integration
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After launch in late 2008, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will help scientists to better understand solar variability and aid in predictions of space weather. After launch, SDO's propulsion system will boost the spacecraft into a geosynchronous orbit (meaning the craft will seem to remain over the same patch of Earth). This video shows engineers integrating the propulsion system with the rest of the spacecraft.


Brent Robertson, SDO Manager: OK, here's our SDO propulsion module and over here is the SDO spacecraft bus, and we're about to mate the spacecraft bus to the propulsion module. This was a big event for us. Here you see that the lifting sling is attached to the spacecraft bus, and we're slowly lifting that bus to place it above the propulsion module.

The spacecraft bus contains all the electronics that we've built up over the past year to control the satellite and eventually send the data down to the ground. And it's a very complicated piece of structure, and we want to make sure that during this operation that we don't have any issues with interference of blankets, harness or mechanical structure.

We've prepared well in advance for this operation. Everything's planned out very meticulously and written down. We want to make sure that we don't have any issues. You can see the complicated nature of the spacecraft bus electronics. It's slowly lowered down onto the propulsion module, and we have people watching this operation and helping out with the lowering of the bus onto the propulsion module. Every person has a role to play during this operation and any person could stop the operation if we were to encounter a problem.

You can see the spacecraft bus is slowly lowered down, while all of our engineers and technicians watch for any interference issues that we might have. All of this operation is recorded. You can see our photographer. We're getting towards being able to mate it. This is a big event for us. We've been working for the past year on the spacecraft bus, building up the electronics and propulsion module for the past year as well, building that up. And here it is mated together.

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> Read a feature story about SDO propulsion integration

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