… things are coming together …

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Things are taking shape in Kourou. Finally, the unpacked Gaia satellite bus (left) and its sunshield (right) are in the same cleanroom and are prepared for being connected. This is a longer process as the sunshield will need to be equipped with the Multi-Layer Insulation (MLI) first. Every step will be checked several times to guarantee that everything is perfectly installed. The solar arrays need to be installed, too. Then the sunshield will be mounted on the Gaia bus in launch configuration.

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This allows the critical sunshield deployment test to be carried out. This sounds easy but is more complicated than you might think. You will need to compensate the gravity of the Earth that is pulling on the single elements of the sunshield. A device was constructed (shown in the image above) that will support the weight of each element of the shield. As the elements of the shield are moving during the deployment test the hanging elements of the device need to be flexible for movements, too. Thus, the entire process of the preparations for the deployment test will take several weeks. The deployment test is planned for mid-October. As far as I know everything is on track at the moment.

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