March 7, 2017

Key milestones

2014 events

The ESA Science Programme Committee confirmed the extension of the mission to 31 December 2016.

2013 events

19/06/2013: The ESA Science Programme Committee approved a new extension to 31 December 2016 for Cluster, subject to mid-term confirmation in late 2014.

2010 events

19/11/2010: The ESA Science Programme Committee approved the extension of the Cluster mission, pushing back the end date from December 2012 to December 2014, subject to a mid-term review in 2012.

2009 events

02/10/2009: The ESA Science Programme Committee approved the extension of the Cluster mission, pushing back the end date from December 2009 to December 2012.

2005 events

10/02/2005: The ESA Science Programme Committee approved unanimously the extension of the Cluster mission, pushing back the end date from December 2005 to December 2009.

This extension will allow the first measurements of space plasmas at both small and large scales simultaneously and the sampling of geospace regions never crossed before by four spacecraft flying in close formation.

2002 events

06-07/2002: Sequence of spacecraft manoeuvres to extend the tetrahedron size from 100 km to 5,000 km.

02/06/2002: Following the SSWG recommendation, complete coverage of telemetry reception has started.

14/02/2002: The ESA Scientific Programme Committee decided to extend the mission by three years and to increase scientific data coverage along the orbit.

2001 events

07/02/2001: Cluster commences operations: first exciting results to be announced at media event in Paris.

Six months after four Cluster spacecraft congregated in Earth orbit, scientists are beginning to gather the first results from ESA’s unique mission to explore the magnetosphere, the magnetic shield that surrounds our planet.

2000 events

22/12/2000: Cluster interference campaign successfully completed

Members of the Cluster science community and operations teams at ESOC (Darmstadt, Germany) and JSOC (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK) are looking forward to a well-deserved Christmas break after successfully concluding the instrument interference campaign with the Cluster quartet.

14/08/2000: Cluster Quartet congregate in polar orbit.

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.

09/08/2000: Lift-off for second pair of Cluster II spacecraft

ESA Press Release N° 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.

16/07/2000: A perfect launch for the first Cluster pair

At 18.39 local time (14.39 CEST) today, the steppes of Kazakhstan reverberated with the roar of rocket engines as a Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle lifted off from pad 6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome with its precious payload of two Cluster satellites. "We have lift-off!" came the confirmation on the public address system.

22/03/2000: Fregat's successful qualification flight puts Cluster II in fine fettle.

Preliminary analysis of Monday's Cluster II Mission Validation Flight shows that the Fregat upper stage on the Russian Soyuz rocket has passed its second test with flying colours. The objectives of this flight were to confirm the re-ignition and orbital manoeuvring capabilities of the Fregat, and to validate the mission profile to be used by ESA's Cluster II scientific satellites. The newly developed Fregat ('frigate' in English) is now ready to launch the Cluster II quartet this summer.

09/02/2000: Cluster II on track after maiden flight of Fregat upper stage

The first qualification flight of the new Fregat ('Frigate' in English) upper stage on the Russian Soyuz rocket was completed today. This is the first time that the Fregat has flown on a Soyuz and represents a major milestone on the road towards the launch of ESA's four Cluster II satellites this summer.

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