Status reports from Baikonur/ESOC (first launch)
18 July 2000Status reports from ESOC, ESA's operations centre in Darmstadt (D).
The Cluster team have left Baikonur and reporting continues from the control room at ESOC. All times are in Central European Summer Time (CEST).
Wednesday, 26 July at 9:30 CEST
ASPOC + CIS cover opening
The covers have been successfully opened on the CIS and ASPOC experiments on both Salsa and Samba. In addition, electric verifications have been performed on ASPOC and an upload of tables on CIS. The instruments are now switched off again, waiting the start of commissioning 10 days after the second launch.
Friday, 21 July at 9:30 CEST
All major orbit manoeuvres were successfully completed for each spacecraft. The last inclination change manoeuvre and perigee raising was performed last night, 21 July at 1:02 and 2:04 over the Perth and Villafranca ground stations. Subsequent analysis revealed excellent manoeuvre performance. The spacecraft are now in their final elliptical orbit with 16 869 km perigee and 121 098 km apogee. In order to bring the spacecraft to their required attitude a small slew manoeuvre to 94 degrees is planned for today at 17:00 and 19:00 hrs. local time. The launch of the second satellite pair is currently planned for 9 August at 13:11 CEST.
Thursday 20 July at 10:00 CEST
A big slew manoeuvre from 86 to 109 degrees solar aspect angle required for the inclination change manoeuvre has been successfully completed for both spacecraft this morning at 06:00 and 09:17 CEST. In order to bring the spacecraft to their operational orbit, an inclination change manoeuvre to the desired 90 degrees inclination is planned for tonight at 00:59 (FM 6 - Salsa) and 02:00 CEST (FM 7 - Samba). At this time the perigee will also be raised to about 20,000 km and the attitude adjusted to 96 degrees.
The launch of the second satellite pair is currently planned for 9 August at 13:10 CEST.
Tuesday, 18 July at 12:00
Two major orbit manoeuvres have been successfully completed for each spacecraft. Operations are proceeding to schedule. The second apogee raising manoeuvre was performed today, 18 July at 10:28 and 10:33, respectively, out of ground station coverage. Subsequent analysis revealed excellent manoeuvre performance. The spacecraft are now in an orbit with 240 km perigee and 35.300 km apogee. In order to bring the spacecraft to their operational orbit by 24 July another two apogee raising manoeuvres and an inclination changing manoeuvre to the desired 90 degrees inclination are required. The next apogee raising manoeuvre is foreseen for tomorrow, 19 July at 7:08 CEST. The launch of the second satellite pair is currently planned for 9 August at 13:10 CEST.
Monday 17 July
14:30 Following the successful launch of the first pair of ESA's Cluster II satellites on Sunday,16 July at 14:39, the first signals of both spacecraft were successfully acquired at 16:11 and 16:20. The initial status checks on both spacecraft were completed at 17:05 within the ground station coverage in Kiruna, Sweden. Operations are proceeding to schedule.
Both spacecraft have meanwhile undergone a spin-up manoeuvre from 5 to 13.9 revolutions per minute and an attitude manoeuvre to the firing attitude required for the first apogee raising manoeuvre with the main engine. This took place today, Monday 17 July at 13:21 out of ground station coverage. Both spacecraft were acquired 20 minutes later confirming the successful burn and the correct orbit. The next apogee raising manoeuvre will take place tomorrow, 18 July at 10:34 local Darmstadt time. In total 4 manoeuvres will be performed including an inclination changing manoeuvre to the desired 90 degrees inclination. These will bring the two spacecraft to the required operational orbit by 24 July.
16 July 18:30 The Soyuz/Fregat rocket carrying the first pair of ESA's Cluster II satellites successfully lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kasachstan today, Sunday, the 16th July at 14:39 CEST. 9 minutes later Fregat separated from the third stage of Soyuz and the first Fregat burn took place at 14:49 bringing the satellites to a circular parking orbit at 200 km altitude. 76 minutes after lift-off the second Fregat burn took place bringing the satellites into the separation orbit at 245 km perigee and 18.067 km apogee. Both spacecraft separated from the Fregat upper stage at 16:10 and the first signals of the spacecraft were received via the Kiruna ground station in Sweden at 16:11 and 16:20. Telemetry received via the Perth ground station in Australia confirmed both spacecraft are in good health.
The Cluster team are now travelling to Moscow, and reporting continues from the operations team at ESOC,
Today in Baikonur
Status reports from the Cluster team in the bunker in Baikonur. All times are in CEST (UT + 2hours)
17:47 "We had acquisition over Kiruna as expected. Both spacecraft performed as expected with perfect attitude and orbital parameters. Solar aspect exactly as expected, with very high accuracy according to predictions, which means Soyuz and Fregat performed perfectly," reported Alberto Gianolio, Cluster Deputy Project Manager from Baikonur.
The 2 Clusters have separated and first health checks show everything is fine, say early reports from the Control Centre in Darmstadt."
15:44 "We have received the first forecasts of the Fregat orbital parameters which show very high accuracy with respect to predictions," says Alberto Gianolio from Baikonur.
15:55:42 The 2nd Fregat burn takes place over Africa, starting just off the coast of Angola and finishing over Egypt.
15:11 The Fregat and the 2 Clusters are now crossing the coast of Siberia southwards out over the Pacific. During this time there is no ground station contact while over the Pacific. It passes over land again at the southern tip of South America around Cape Horn - in about 1 hour's time.
14:56 "The first Fregat separation confirmed, main engine cutoff confirmed, we are now in a 200 km circular orbit, 2nd Fregat burn in 1hour 4 minutes" reports Alberto Gianolio from Baikonur.
"We are now waiting for main engine cutoff", says Manfred Warhaut from ESOC.
14:49:23 "Fregat has been separated and started its first burn"
14:44:24 Soyuz Second/Third stage separation
14:41:34 Soyuz First/Second stage separation
14:33 "Spacecraft are ready for launch".
14:25 "Networks and OCC are 'go'
14:10 "At T-29 the servicing platform has been retracted, and the ground segment is 'green'.
13:42 Ground segment is 'green', reports the Cluster team from Baikonur.
12:55 "At T-1:44:30 filling has been completed", reports Gerard Melchior from the bunker in Baikonur.
10:50 The State commission has given the go-ahead for the launch today and refuelling has commenced. The liquid oxygen was drained from the first three stages yesterday after the launch sequence stopped. So the fuelling procedure has to be repeated.
10:15 The ground segment is green for launch and the 2 spacecraft are in launch mode. Weather conditions in Baikonur are dry and clear this morning.
09:15 The team report that the launch procedure is proceeding nominally and both spacecraft are once again in pre-launch mode, reports Jo Pereira from the bunker.
We now wait for confirmation by the State Commission at around 10:30 CEST this morning.
Saturday 15 July
During the nominal launch sequence, an anomaly was reported to the control system located in the bunker. The anomaly was on the pyrotechnic ignition system of the Soyuz central stage. This automatically aborted the launch sequence 2 minutes before liftoff. The State Commission was convened to investigate the problem, and concluded that the anomaly is clearly located, both the Cluster II spacecraft and the Soyuz launcher, including the Fregat upper stage, are in nominal configuration.
This hold during the launch chronology has demonstrated the robustness of the Soyuz launching process. This short delay will not have any impact on the spacecraft orbits, the expected science and the launch of the second pair of Clusters still scheduled for 9 August. The launch is rescheduled to take place tomorrow, 16 July, at 12:39 GMT (14:39 CEST). The launch will as usual be confirmed by a State Commission 4 hours before liftoff.
14:45 "The launch has been aborted by the Launch Authorities. They are now investigating and we await their report", says Alberto Gianolio from Baikonur.
"Space is an unforgiving business. But it is better to find the problem on the ground than I cm above the ground." said Dave Dale, Director of Technical and Operational Support from the press centre at ESOC, Darmstadt. The next launch window is 12:39:34 UTC (14:39:34 CEST). We are expecting a further report from the press centre at ESOC in Darmstadt in 2 hours time (around 17:20 CEST).
Please wait for further news shortly.
14:27 Retraction of servicing power has been completed. "At L -15 everything is clear for launch", says Alberto Gianolio, Cluster Deputy Project Manager from the bunker in Baikonur. "Network and OCC are green", reports the Operations Centre at ESOC.
14:15 "We have go for launch", reports Dave Dale from ESOC.
13:45 "We have the green light from the ground segment, and everything is nominal for launch", reports Gerard Melchior. 13:25 Soyuz fuelling is completed.
10:40 The fuelling has started.
10:25 The spacecraft are in launch mode on external power, telemetry links established, status is green.
09:35 "It is -5 hours and 10 minutes, the countdown has started, telemetry links with ESOC operations centre is established and we are green for launch", reports Gerald Melchior from the bunker in Baikonur.
08:15 A telephone report from the Cluster launch team in Baikonur at 08:15 am CEST confirms that everything is so far on track.