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Cluster II launch contract signed

Cluster II launch contract signed

18 August 1998

The contract between Starsem and ESA for the launch of the four Cluster II satellites was signed on Friday 24 July 1998 at ESA Headquarters. At the signing ceremony, Starsem was represented by Jean-Yves Le Gall, its Chairman and CEO. Roger Bonnet, Director of the Scientific Programme, represented the Agency.

On 3 April 1997, ESA agreed to the reflight of the full Cluster mission. Since then, the instrument teams and industry in Europe have been working hard to meet the Cluster II launch date of mid-2000. The four spacecraft will be launched in pairs by two Russian Soyuz rockets about a month apart.

Each of the four Cluster II payloads consists of a set of state of the art instruments to detect plasma fields and waves as well as particles. Cluster II will determine the physical processes involved in the interaction between the solar wind and the magnetosphere by visiting the key regions such as the polar cusps and the magnetotail. The four spacecraft will map in three dimensions the plasma structure contained in these regions.

After the final orbit is reached, the commissioning phase, consisting of boom deployment and instruments checking, will be conducted over approximately 3 months. After this extensive checkout period, the mission phase itself will begin, lasting a nominal 2 years.

Two flights, each carrying two Cluster II satellites, will take place during the period May-August 2000. Nominal launch dates are 15 June and 13 July 2000. For reasons relating to orbit injection, the gap between launches should not exceed 42 days. The satellites will be launch from the Baikonur Space Centre (Kazakhstan) using Soyuz rockets with a Fregat upper stage.

Starsem, a company founded in August 1996, is performing the marketing, sales, management and operations of commercial launch services, using the Soyuz launch vehicle family. The first launch conducted by Starsem in Sureness (France) are the Russian Space Agency (RKA), the Samara Space Centre which manufacture the Soyuz rockets, Aerospatiale and Arianespace.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
6-Feb-2023 09:04 UT

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