News archive

News archive

Bringing a single spacecraft into operation is quite a complex procedure. Simultaneously commissioning four scientific spacecraft can be a logistical nightmare.Sandro Matussi, Cluster spacecraft operations manager at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, found time to describe how things wereprogressing, one month into the three-month-long commissioning phase of ESA's unique mission toexplore the magnetosphere.
Published: 28 September 2000
The Cluster mission will be booming over the next six weeks. During a carefully planned series of operations, 16 wire booms, each almost 50metres in length, will gradually be released from the spinning satellites. Once they are fully deployed and begin to sweep out a giant circle aroundthe spacecraft, these booms will provide a flood of data for the five wave experiments on each Cluster satellite.
Published: 7 September 2000
Doom and gloom are currently affecting the Cluster project team, but there's no need for concern. It's just the start of the eclipse season for the four Cluster spacecraft. Over the next week, the quartetwill periodically cease to be illuminated by the Sun as they sweep through the Earth's shadow.
Published: 30 August 2000
ESA Press Release N0 54-2000.The Cluster quartet, Salsa, Samba, Rumba and Tango, now flying in their final orbit around the Earth in tetrahedral formation, are ready to enter the scientific commissioning and operation phase. Thus Cluster is at last joining the SOHO spacecraft and making the first cornerstone of ESA's "Horizons 2000" programme a reality.
Published: 23 August 2000
With the four Cluster spacecraft safely assembled in their operationalpolar orbits, and the rigid booms (two experiment booms and one antennaboom for each spacecraft) deployed, the instrument commissioning phase isnow about to get under way.
Published: 21 August 2000
Following the completion of the orbital manoeuvres on Spacecraft FM5 (Rumba) and on FM8 (Tango) on Tuesday 15 August and successfully achieving the GO/NO-GO criteria relative to orbit accuracy, the Main engine of all four spacecraft has been declared not needed anymore. From now on, all manoeuvres will be performed using the 10 N thrusters.
Published: 16 August 2000
After five major orbital manoeuvres per spacecraft executed in five days, the second pair of Cluster spacecraft have been successfully inserted into their operational polar orbits.
Published: 14 August 2000
Following the successful launch of the second pair of four ESA Clustersatellites at 13:13 CEST on 9th August, Rumba and Tango are heading towards their final operational orbits.
Published: 11 August 2000
The tiny digital camera on board Cluster spacecraft FM 5 (Rumba) made a piece of space history earlier today.The 430 gramme Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) attached to the base of FM 5 sent back the first colour pictures ever taken from space as two unmanned satellites separated and drifted apart from each other. (The only other known occasion was a test flight using dummy spacecraft and a prototype camera.)
Published: 9 August 2000
ESA Press Release N0 52-2000 The second pair of Cluster satellites are now safely in separation orbit around the Earth after today's successful launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. At 13.13 CEST, (17.13 Baikonur Time - 13.13 CEST) ) a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle provided by the French-Russian Starsem consortium lifted off with Cluster satellites FM 5 (Rumba) and FM 8 (Tango). Approximately 75 minutes into the mission, the Fregat transfer module fired for a second time to insert the spacecraft into a 250 km x 18,000 km separation orbit. About 20 minutes later, the ground station in Kiruna, Sweden, confirmed that the satellites had successfully separated from the Fregat and were now flying in good health.
Published: 9 August 2000
At 17.13 local time (13.13 CEST) today, the second pair of Cluster spacecraft lifted off from pad 6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle. On a scorching summer afternoon, with temperatures well over 40°C, conditions were perfect for this second act in the Cluster launch drama.
Published: 9 August 2000
All times are in CEST (UT + 2 hours)Wednesday 9 August 15:20 "The team are very happy!" said Alberto Gianolio from Baikonur. "The injection went as expected, the solar aspect angle is nominal and all units are on the prime chain - no switchovers were required. There has been nothing unexpected, telemetry is being received and commands sent to the spacecraft." The Baikonur team are now on the move, and reporting continues fromESA's Operations Centre in Darmstadt, from where the 4 Clusters are controlled.
Published: 9 August 2000
Two successful launches in less than a month. That is the proud record of the European Space Agency's Cluster programme and the Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle provided by the French-Russian Starsem consortium after today's blast-off from Baikonur Cosmodrome."I am very proud to let you know that all four satellites are now in orbit," said Professor Roger Bonnet, ESA Director of Science. "The launch today was absolutely nominal. After so many years of expectations, ESA has kept its promises to the scientists."
Published: 9 August 2000
Following the successful completion of the Launch Readiness Review and of the Transfer Readiness Review on 5 August, the go-ahead for the final launch preparations was given by the Russian State Commission on the evening of the same day.
Published: 6 August 2000
Two weeks after the first pair of Cluster spacecraft lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Project Manager John Ellwood looked back contentedly on the successful completion of the first act in this two-part launch drama.
Published: 1 August 2000
N0 51-2000 - Paris, 31 July 2000After the successful launch of the first two Cluster satellites Salsa and Samba - on 16 July, followed by a perfect insertion into their operational orbits, scientists around the world are eagerly awaiting the launch of the second Cluster pair from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Published: 1 August 2000
The Cluster mission to explore the magnetosphere has a genuineinternational flavour, in more ways than one.
Published: 26 July 2000
Two amateur astronomers from the Starkenburg observatory in Heppenheim,near Darmstadt in Germany, have succeeded in photographing the first twoCluster satellites, Salsa and Samba, during their daily dance around theEarth.
Published: 25 July 2000
After one of the most complex series of manoeuvres ever carried out byEarth-orbiting spacecraft, the first Cluster pair have successfully reachedtheir final elliptical orbit. Salsa (FM 6) and Samba (FM 7) are now dancingin step between 16 869 km (perigee) and 121 098 km (apogee) above theEarth.
Published: 21 July 2000
Things are looking up for the first pair of Cluster spacecraft as theygradually move further and further from the Earth.So far, the spacecraft have successfully completed three of the four mainengine burns required to raise the apogee (highest point) of their orbits.
Published: 19 July 2000
15-Jul-2020 11:30 UT

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