Cluster II's Spanish success story
19 May 2000Representatives of Spanish industry and the media yesterday joined stafffrom ESA and the Villafranca del Castillo Satellite Tracking Station site(VILSPA) near Madrid to celebrate the inauguration of the VIL-1 antennathat will be used for the ambitious Cluster II mission.
During the inauguration ceremony, visitors were informed of the important contribution that Spanish industry has made to Cluster II and the vital role that VILSPA will play in the success of the mission.
"VILSPA is the primary ground station for Cluster II and VIL-1 will be the main communication link during the two-year mission," said VILSPA Director, Valeriano Claros.
"The inauguration of VIL-1 also means that VILSPA is the only ground station in the ESTRACK (ESA Telemetry, Command and Tracking) network with two 15-metre antennas," he added. "This should provide good opportunities for VILSPA to play a major role in future ESA space missions."
Dr. Manfred Warhaut, head of the Cluster II ground segment, was also full of praise for the contribution made by VILSPA.
"The ground facilities are completed and ready for the launch of Cluster II," he said. "Mission readiness trials have already been under way for four weeks, testing the data flow to ESOC (the European Space Operations Centre in Germany) and completing the training for the ground staff. Everyone is confident of success and raring to go."
Other speakers at the ceremony were Cluster II Mission Analyst Jose-Rodriguez Canabal, Jose-Manuel Leceta from the Spanish Centre for Technology and Industrial Development, and Santiago Ugaldea from the Spanish company SENER.
Several Spanish companies have made important contributions to the Cluster II project. SENER in Bilbao has designed and built the communication and experiment booms for the spacecraft, while Alcatel Espacio in Tres Cantos (Madrid) has provided on-board transponders and high power amplifiers for the spacecraft.
Spanish contractors and local industry also participated in the relocation and upgrading of the VIL-1 antenna hardware.