Summer migrations in Europe tend to be southwards. But one caravan, composed
of some thirty lorries, has started off in the other direction, from Italy to
the Netherlands: ESA’s INTEGRAL spacecraft is moving house. Prime Contractor
ALENIA Spazio has finished the integration and functional system tests on the
gamma-ray satellite which is now going to ESA’s European Space Research and
Technology Centre at Noordwijk where environmental tests will begin in August.

The first of several convoys leaving Alenia’s Turin facilities on 2 July
marked the end of Italian-based satellite activities. These started in 1995
after Alenia was awarded the INTEGRAL contract to design and build the

“INTEGRAL has today demonstrated Alenia’s maturity in dealing with such a
major project,” says Giuseppe Finocchiaro, INTEGRAL project manager at Alenia.
“On average 70 people every month have been working on this project, with
peaks of 120. We have had a very motivated team. Many of us were involved in
building the BeppoSAX X-ray observatory, and we have been very interested in
this new high-energy astrophysics mission.”

“We have no sadness seeing the spacecraft leave because we are still involved
in the environmental tests at ESTEC, then preparing the satellite for launch
in Baikonour, and right up to the in-orbit commissioning phase.”

INTEGRAL Italian Day

Alenia celebrated the completion of work in Turin with a press conference on
3 July. “With INTEGRAL fully integrated and tested, we have also completed
several end-to-end tests of the ground segment with the spacecraft,”
explained Kai Clausen, ESA’s project manager for INTEGRAL.

“The Proton launcher interface and launch operations are well defined. The
Optical Monitor Camera and SPI have been delivered but our payload is not
complete. JEM-X will come soon and special measures have been taken to
overcome technical problems encountered by the IBIS imager. But we will be
ready for launch as of October 2002.”

IBIS co-principal investigator Pietro Ubertini was one of several speakers
presenting the mission’s scientific objectives. “Our instruments will open
a new window on the Universe. Exceptional imaging and detailed spectroscopy
will provide very fine and deep views and we really do expect to discover
totally new things.”

The size of the INTEGRAL program has required broad cooperation between ESA,
national European research organisations, Russia and NASA. In this respect,
ESA’s Director of Science considers that INTEGRAL is setting an example.
“It is the first mission where reusability (with an XMM-Newton service
module) has allowed us to build a cornerstone for the cost of a medium-sized
mission,” says David Southwood. “We are not at the end of the road, but
INTEGRAL is already a trail-blazer. It has been a testing ground for new
ways of working with industry, and having to overcome many national
difficulties, it has shown the way you can achieve your objective if you
really try.”

Weekly convoys northwards

Hannibal had thirty elephants to cross the Alps. INTEGRAL’s road convoy will
not climb through the mountains but will mobilise an equal number of road
vehicles, heavy trucks and articulated lorries. The logistics of this
exceptional journey have been planned for over a year.

“We are transporting not only the spacecraft itself but all the ground support
equipment and test benches,” explains Michele Suita, Alenia deputy programme
manager, who will supervise activities at ESTEC. “We also are bringing the
special containers that will be used to fly the spacecraft to Baikonour.”

“Vehicles are now leaving every week on their 7-day long trip via the CÙte
d’Azur and up the Rhone Valley to the Benelux countries. Three convoys
with over-sized lorries require police escorts. Obtaining the necessary
authorisations, particularly with the summer season holiday traffic has often
been difficult.”

By 22 July the entire INTEGRAL caravan will have arrived at ESTEC. Alenia and
ESA staff then have a tight schedule: installing and testing the remaining
scientific instruments on the spacecraft, environmental tests (vibration,
acoustic and thermal) and further ground system verifications. Once these
are all successfully completed, it will then be time to think once again of
moving house — this time eastwards to Baikonour.


* INTEGRAL home page

* ALENIA Spazio


[Image 1:]
INTEGRAL spacecraft in Alenia Spazio clean-room being prepared for journey
to ESTEC. Foremost is the SPI spectrometer wrapped in its gold-coloured
insulation. At the top left is the Optical Monitor Camera. (Photo: MoaR)

[Image 2:]
The INTEGRAL payload module container ready to be loaded. (Photo: MoaR)

[Image 3:]
Left to right at the Alenia press day: David Southwood, ESA Director of
Science, Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Alenia Project Manager, and Kai Clausen,
ESA INTEGRAL Project Manager. (Photo: MoaR)

[Image 4:]
Left to right, Kai Clausen, ESA INTEGRAL Project Manager, Giuseppe
Finocchiaro, Alenia Project Manager and Pietro Ubertini, IBIS co-Principal
Investigator. (Photo: MoaR)

[Image 5:]
INTEGRAL spacecraft at Alenia before trip to the Netherlands, showing on
near side the two star trackers. (Photo: MoaR)