Cluster II Science Working Team reports
20 May 1999Some 60 scientists and engineers from most of the ESA member countries andthe United States gathered at ESTEC in The Netherlands, 18-19 May, for the latest meeting of the Cluster II Science Working Team (SWT). With a little over one year to go before the dual launches of the four Cluster II spacecraft, the message coming across loud and clear was "Two Down, Two To Go".
Everyone attending the SWT meeting agreed that, with very few minor exceptions, the project is proceeding smoothly and on schedule for the launches from Kazakhstan in summer 2000. The Experimenters reported excellent progress on all fronts.
Testing of FM6 is well under way at IABG (near Munich). The next milestone will be a test of its magnetic properties, followed by the spacecraft acceptance review in mid-June.
All of the science instruments have been integrated with FM7 and functional electrical testing of the spacecraft systems has now begun. Once these have been completed, FM7 will be shipped in early June from the Dornier Satellitensysteme plant at Friedrichshafen to IABG.
Next in line is FM8. Its central cylinder, which contains the spacecraft propulsion system, will be delivered in the middle of June, ahead of time, by Matra Marconi Space (Bristol, UK) and will then be mated to the main equipment platform by engineers from Dornier. Integration of the payload will then be able to take place, starting in late July or early August.
ESA Project Manager John Ellwood said, "All of the instruments for the first two spacecraft (FM6 and 7) have been delivered on time and within the allocated budget. Everyone is working really hard to meet the deadlines, and we are delighted by the progress so far."