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Cluster : PEACE


Launch of the Second Pair

The second pair of Cluster satellites (Rumba and Tango)  were successfully launched from Baikonur on 09 August 2000. 

above: A small camera on Cluster spacecraft Rumba recorded its separation in space from Tango. Click to enlarge - and locate PEACE on centre image.

Images courtesy ESA

Launch of the First Pair

The first pair of Cluster satellites (Salsa and Samba) were successfully launched from Baikonur on 16 July 2000.


        left: After a 1 day delay,
        the Soyuz carrying the first
        pair of Cluster satellites
        successfully blasts off

Cluster II launched summer 2000 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This was the launch site for the first artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957, and for the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Two Russian Soyuz rockets, launched on 16 July and 9 August 2000, each carried a pair of Cluster satellites. The Soyuz launchers have proved highly successful and were chosen as the most cost effective option for Cluster. The Soyuz stands 43.5m tall and weighs over 300 tonnes, of which over 90% is fuel.

Each pair of satellites were integrated onto a Fregat payload assist module. This assembly was designed to help carry the satellites into their desired orbit. Although the Fregat module was new for Cluster, it was assembled from tried and tested components, and successfully underwent two qualification flights.

above: launch of a Soyuz rocket for a Fregat qualification flight in 1999

When the Soyuz reached the correct altitude, the fairing was jettisoned and the Fregat, complete with Cluster satellites, assumed an orbit inclined at  64.8° to the equator. The Fregat's role was to manoeuvre the satellites into an elliptical orbit with perigee 200km and apogee 18000km. The Cluster satellites were then released one after the other. The satellites had then to propel themselves to their final orbit, which is inclined at 90° to the equator, with perigee at 19000km and apogee at 119000km. The need for this extensive in-flight manoeuvring required that about 80% of the Fregat's weight, and half of each satellite's weight, was propellant.

above: the fairing housing the Fregat upper stage and two Cluster satellites; an Artist's impression of the Fregat payload assist module and its two Cluster spacecraft as passengers (image courtesy of NPO Lavotchkin)


    Following launch, the Cluster satellites are tracked from VILSPA
    (the Villafranca del Castillo Satellite Tracking Station) in Spain
    using the VIL-1 antenna.

Back to PEACE homepage

By Sarah Szita
Last updated on 1/08/00

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