ASIM, the largest Danish space project ever developed, is now ready for launch at the top of the rocket.
The last intense preparations are still ongoing at SpaceX at Cape Canaveral in Florida before the great Danish space project ASIM heads for the International Space Station (ISS), according to schedule.
The last intense preparations are still ongoing at SpaceX
ASIM is the largest Danish space project ever developed. It is an international project under ESA, led by Denmark with DTU Space as head of the scientific part and Terma as technical prime contractor. The Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science has financed the Danish part via ESA. In addition, institutions and companies from a number of other countries have participated.
Close to the launching pad, Space Launch Complex 40 (LC-40), where the actual launch will take place, SpaceX has its integration facility and hangar. This is where SpaceX is preparing the Dragon module and loading all cargo and supplies for the ISS. ASIM was mounted on 11 March 2018. Dragon now awaits assembly with the 70 meter high and almost 4 meter wide Falcon 9 rocket which will take place in the rocket hangar on the LC-40 launching pad itself.
On LC40, SpaceX completed the last milestone in the flight readiness review, the static fire test, where the rocket was rolled out to the pad and ignited for a few seconds while held down. The rocket will now be moved back to the hangar and coupled with the Dragon vehicle with ASIM.
Per Lundahl Thomsen, Chief Consultant and Project Manager at DTU Space, reports from Florida: ”It is absolutely amazing that we are this close to launching ASIM into space. To have been part of this impressive project makes me very happy and proud, and I look forward to seeing it on the launch pad on Monday. We are many to share the honor of reaching this stage. We would not have succeeded without goodwill from the Ministry, an impressive effort from the Danish space industry, the universities concerned, and not least from ESA. Also the amazing collaboration between colleagues both in Denmark and the rest of the world deserves much praise. They have all made ASIM a reality with hard work, perseverance, technical expertise, and insight. Now, we can simply keep our fingers crossed for the weather Gods to be with us on Monday and for no technical malfunctions”.
SpaceX, NASA, and ASIM installation team
The project team at Terma A/S is also extremely excited: “The nerves are on edge. But fortunately, it looks as if ASIM, Dragon, and the Falcon 9 rocket are ready to be rolled to the launching pad this weekend and launched on Monday, 2 April 2018”, says Ole Hartnack, Project Manager for ASIM with the Danish high-tech company Terma, technical prime contractor of this mission.
Dan D. V. Bhanderi from Terma who has been responsible for the technical aspect of the ASIM mission has guided the ASIM team in a very exemplary manor through the many technical challenges, analyses, and documentation which this project has required in order to become a reality. During the past weeks, he has been travelling between Denmark and the U.S.to get the last details in place and to get ASIM safely installed in the Dragon.
“The last remaining task is now for the technicians from SpaceX to remove the “red tag items” (hoods) which are placed in front of the camera lenses”. The hoods are mounted temporarily to protect against dust and dirt. “They are also called “Remove Before Flight Items” and are marked with a distinct red key chain so they are not forgotten and sent into space. They must be removed as late as possible. This is why we have asked SpaceX to wait till after the rocket has been rolled onto the test launch pad on Wednesday, 28 March 2018, after which it will be rolled into the LC-40 hangar for the assembly with the rocket and Dragon. At this time, the last possibility for SpaceX to get access to ASIM and remove these red tags are according to the schedule on Friday, 30 March 2018”, says Dan D. V. Bhanderi.
Torsten Neubert who is the architect and scientific leader of ASIM at DTU Space says; “It is a humble period of my life that we have come this far, and Monday will without a doubt be one of the biggest moments in my life. I am very much looking forward to ASIM finally being launched into space.
During the weekend, the entire rocket is moved slowly and in a horizontal position the last meters to the launching pad LC-40 after which it is erected to a vertical position. It is then filled with rocket fuel, etc., and it will then be ready for launch on Monday at 22:30 (Danish time)!
A Danish lead project
The ASIM project (The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor) is an international collaboration building on a Danish idea based on advanced technology.
The project is rooted in the European Space Agency (ESA). The mission in space is expected to last at least 2 years.
DTU Space at the Technical University of Denmark is heading the scientific management of the ASIM project and has built a part of the instruments. The Danish company Terma is heading the technical part of the project and the industrial consortium which has built ASIM.
Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) delivers global meteorological data and helps interpreting the data scientifically.
In addition, the University of Bergen in Norway, University of Valencia in Spain, and partners from Poland and Italy participate. All in all, ASIM involves around 80 scientist teams from 30 countries.
ASIM is to study lightning, thunderstorms, meteors, and climate conditions from space.
From ISS, the ASIM instruments are to look down to observe what happens in the atmosphere and why – from the top of the clouds and up to 100 km above the face of the earth. Here, strange lightning and x-ray radiation are formed.
ASIM instruments take optical visible pictures of lightning, count photons, and measure x-ray radiation from thunderstorms.
Both the x-ray radiation invisible to the human eye and the fascinating giant lightning striking into Space instead of down towards Earth will be studied much more precisely than previously possible.
The new knowledge will give us new insight into the anatomy of lightning which may help us develop better protection against the strike of lightning and new technologies where electrical discharges are included.
Moreover ASIM collects data about water vapor, clouds, and aerosols which form part of a complex interaction in connection with thunderstorms and influences the Earth climate. Thus, we get a better understanding of how thunderstorms and related phenomena may influence the climate on Earth which again may contribute to better climate models in the future.
The ASIM cameras can also study meteors coming into the Earth atmosphere and will be able to help work out where they will land so that they can be found and studied.
Visit our dedicated ASIM site.
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