Cluster II on the road to Munich
3 March 1999Shooting of the first scene in the Cluster II 'road movie' started on 3 Marchwith the departureof the FM (flight model) 6 spacecraft on its 350 km journey fromFriedrichshafen toMunich. FM6 was the first of four identical Cluster II spacecraft to bedespatched fromthe Dornier Satellitensysteme assembly building in Friedrichshafen to theIABG testfacility in Ottobrunn, near Munich.
At a Friedrichshafen press conference hosted by Dornier, ESA representative Dr Rudolf Schmidt paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the engineers and scientists from many countries who were bringing the exciting mission to fruition.
"This is a major step on the long road to launch from Baikonur next summer", said Dr Schmidt.
The transfer began inside Dornier's giant clean room as FM6 was carefully encased inside a weatherproof protective canister which provides controlled conditions of temperature and humidity. The 550 kg satellite was clamped onto a special platform designed to dampen any harmful vibrations. It was then wheeled through the airlock, attached to a mobile crane and gingerly lifted onto a lorry for its long cross-country trip.
As further protection during the journey, the science experiments were fed with a continuous stream of nitrogen gas to prevent any outside contamination. A police escort was provided for the long trek east. The other three Cluster II spacecraft will be following in the tyre tracks of FM6 during the next 12 months.