Heavy lift and transportation specialist ALE was commissioned by Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE) – the civilian agency of Argentina’s national space programme – to lift and transport a satellite, which will be launched in a rocket owned by US aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company SpaceX.
ALE transported the 12 tonne satellite 10 km from its fabrication yard to Bariloche airport, in Argentina’s Patagonia region, where it was loaded onto an Antonov plane, ready for launch at Vandenberg air field in California, North America.
The 4am transport operation required a complete shut-down of the 10 km route, as well as civilian, police and military escorts. The convoy comprised over 12 vehicles, four semi-trailers and two trailers. The cargo was delivered with minimum accelerations, controlled temperature and moisture conditions, ALE reported.
Once the satellite arrived at the airport, the satellite was lifted onto a skidding system, and skidded into the waiting airplane.
“Despite weighing just 12 tonnes, which is relatively low for the typical loads we move, there was a huge amount of pressure, both politically and economically, as the satellite is so high-profile,” explained Raul Anriquez, ALE’s project manager for the job. “The client was fully satisfied with our logistics solution and acknowledged our professionalism throughout the project. This is a huge milestone in the country´s space programme development and we are proud that ALE has successfully been part of it.”
Once the rocket has been launched, ALE will perform the heavy transport of ancillary equipment within the US and perform the maritime transportation of remaining components back to Chile and overland to Argentina. It is expected to be launched in the Falcon X rocket, belonging to Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, by October 2018.