Friday, November 14, 2014

RSS Goes Back Up!!

After two months of enormous effort by all concerned, RSS is looking better than ever!  In addition to the highly successful optical service (a long blog post to follow about that at some point...) which drove the project, the Tech Ops team's made full use of this opportunity to access any & every part of the instrument.

All mechanisms have been thoroughly overhauled & tested, CAD models were created for parts that weren't under config management & the baffling's been improved to beat down stray light & to help keep the instrument (& particularly the optics) as clean as possible.

The various mechanisms (including new etalon mounts, the waveplates, the slitmask magazine & the gratings) needed plenty of tweaking & testing before the lift could happen.  This stuff's hard enough to do on the ground, no point rushing to put everything back up, only to then discover that something wasn't right.

The guys have been relentless, working day & night for the past several days to make sure everything's ready & in great shape.  With that, a post-lunch launch was agreed to yesterday...

The instrument was rigged up at the tracker's 37 degree operational angle before being hoisted through the hatch with the dome crane.

This was all a bit too hard to watch for some thoroughly exhausted people...

Safely to the first floor!

& then up to the catwalk.

Time for a last good look at everything from above.

RSS hovers patiently above the hatch after hailing a telescope...

After 9 weeks & 3 days of major surgery & intensive care in the spectrometer room, the tracker must've been a most welcome sight for our prime focus imaging spectrograph (the instrument formerly known as PFIS).

Eben & his crew of lifters: Denville, Etienne, Timmy & Jono, + crane-man Nicolaas, took up their positions on the tracker & access platform.

Everyone guided her down very gently before fastening the bolts into the rho stage.

Securely down, the lifting gear could be removed...

Then the task of routing & connecting all the RSS cables, pneumatics, coolant pipes & other life-support back into & out of the rotating structure.

Earlier in the day, the HRS fibres had been stowed out of harm's way in a blue tube that was lashed to the outside of the rho ring (visible to the left of Eben's foot in the pic above).  With RSS back on, these could be fed back under the RSS frame, routed into the rotating structure & connected to the FIF.

What happened next is not hard to imagine...  A cold & hungry crew did what they needed to do!  Big thank you to Jupiter for still being willing to cook fantastic steaks after 10pm when the last of us arrived there!  

Don't be fooled by the date on the bottle - the lift happened on Thursday the 13th, the past few days have just been too busy to keep track of such details!  Pity about the bad weather that'll prevent on-sky testing for a couple of days, but stay tuned...

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