Queen's Day Marked By Grand Cluster Lift Off
28 April 2000Queen's Day in Holland will be celebrated on Saturday 29 April with visitsby Queen Beatrix to the coastal towns of Katwijk and Leiden. One of theevents planned for this day of national celebration is the launch of15 000 Cluster balloons from the ESA - Space Expo site on the KatwijkBoulevard.
At around 10 a.m., Dutch astronaut Andre Kuiper will give the Queen a short description of the unique Cluster II mission that will soon be launched to study the interaction between the Sun and Earth. She will then be joined by 10 young people for the final countdown. As they reach zero, Queen Beatrix will press a red button to send 5000 red, white, blue and orange helium balloons, which have been hidden in the nearby sand dunes, soaring into the sky.
Throughout the day, young volunteers dressed in astronaut suits and Cluster caps will be encouraging visitors to join in the fun. Another 10 000 balloons will be available for anyone interested in taking part in the Great Cluster Balloon Race. The names and addresses of participants will be attached to each balloon in the hope that their entry will float the furthest distance and win them a prize.
Meanwhile, adults will also be offered entry forms for the 'Name the Cluster Spacecraft' competition, together with cut price tickets for entry to the Noordwijk Space Expo.
An additional attraction for members of the public will be a 1:4 scale model of the four Cluster II spacecraft and a smaller model of the Rosetta spacecraft that will be on view in a large ESA pavilion on the sea front. The Dutch television will broadcast the whole event in real-time and it is expected that the other major televisions will show shots of the ESA pavillion during the news, due to its favourable position.
The special festivities in Katwijk have been arranged by the Public Relations Department of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), which is located nearby in Noordwijk, to inform the public about ESA's pioneering space science programme and the forthcoming Cluster II mission.