European Space Operations Centre briefed on Cluster status
14 Jul 2000Over 100 members of staff gathered in the conference room at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, this afternoon to hear the latest status reports on the readiness of the Cluster ground segment.
Cluster project representative Walter Pinter-Krainer explained that the Soyuz rocket and its ESA payload were safely installed on the launch pad last Wednesday (12 July), and final checkouts are well under way at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A full dress rehearsal of the launch was successfully completed on Thursday, involving a real time simulation of the pre-launch and launch events that will take place tomorrow. Meanwhile, battery charging of the Cluster spacecraft was completed today and verification of the Fregat upper stage is under way.
Sandro Matussi, Cluster Spacecraft Operations Manager, then informed the audience that a total of 27 simulations have been successfully performed since 10 February, covering numerous scenarios that involved all phases of the launch operations, as well as boom deployment.
"A small core team of Cluster I 'dinosaurs' has been teaching the newcomers the necessary procedures," he said. "The Flight Control team is proud to be the first one supporting two launches in less than a month, but we are ready to support the flight of the first two spacecraft and the next launch in August."
The Cluster Flight Dynamics Manager, John Dow, was also aware of the historic nature of the mission.
"We must also be able to claim another record for the number of orbital manoeuvres involved in one mission," he said. "We will have to carry out up to 14 orbit change and attitude trim manoeuvres for each spacecraft in the first week after launch, and this will be followed by more minor adjustments once the second pair are launched."