Cluster takes shape
Aug 9, 2000
The second pair of Cluster spacecraft have been launched safely from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Cluster mission consists of four identical satellites that will fly in formation to study the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind. The mission should increase our understanding of so-called space weather and its impact on satellites and the Earth.
The Rumba and Tango satellites were sent into space on board a French-Russia launcher. Over the next week they will rendezvous with the Salsa and Samba satellites that were launched on July 16. The four satellites will undergo three months of tests before beginning their two-year scientific mission. Cluster is a joint mission between ESA and NASA, the European and American space agencies, and it will join two other joint missions - SOHO and Ulysses - that are studying the solar wind. Today's launch comes four years after the rocket carrying the original Cluster mission exploded shortly after take off in 1996.