ESA title
Back to Index
Science & Exploration

N° 46–2000: Countdown for the Cluster quartet

3 July 2000

Only a few days remain before the start of the European Space Agency's Cluster II mission, a unique expedition to explore the magnetosphere and revolutionise our understanding of the interaction between the Sun and Earth.

Following the successful completion of the Cluster II Flight Readiness Review on 23 June, final launch preparations are progressing smoothly and combined operations with the Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle are now under way.

The dual launches, each involving two Cluster spacecraft built under the prime contractorship of Astrium (former Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH, Germany), are currently scheduled for 15 July with a launch window opening at 14:40 CEST, 12:40 GMT and lasting 6 minutes, and 9 August from Baikonur Space Centre in Kazakhstan.

A number of press events have been organised in various countries to coincide with both launches. The main press centre for the first launch will be located at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) at Darmstadt in Germany. Local press centres are also being set up in the other ESA establishments: ESRIN (Italy), ESTEC (The Netherlands), and VILSPA (Spain). See attachment for more detailed information and reply form to register at the various sites.

Details of the second launch press event, which will be held in London (UK), will be available at a later date. Cluster II Competition Attracts Record Entries. A highlight of the first launch event at ESOC will be the announcement of the overall winner of ESA's "Name the Cluster quartet" competition and the chosen names of the four Cluster II satellites.

Last February, members of the public in all of ESA's 15 member states were asked to suggest the most suitable names for the Cluster II spacecraft. The satellites are currently known as flight models (FM) 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Competitors were asked to propose a set of four names (places, people, or things from history, mythology, or fiction, but not living persons) and explain in a few sentences the reasons for their choice.

After sifting through more than 5,000 entries from all over Europe and debating at length the merits of the various suggestions, the multinational jury eventually produced a list of 15 national prize winners - one from each ESA member state.

These finalists and their families have all won a 3-day trip to attend a special Cluster II launch event in one of these ESA establishments:


  • ESRIN (near Rome, Italy): winners from France, Ireland, Belgium.


  • VILSPA (near Madrid, Spain): winners from The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland.


  • ESTEC (near Amsterdam, The Netherlands): winners from Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria.


  • ESOC (in the Rhine Valley, Germany): winners from Italy, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom.

The Lucky 15.

The lucky national winners are:

Austria: VENTO, NUBO, FULMO, PLUVO entered by Andreas Rosenstingl (Vienna, A).

Belgium: ALBATROS, EAGLE, FALCON, HAWK entered by André Borremans (Lembeek, B).

Denmark: ORIENTÁLIS, OCCIDENTÁLIS, AQUILÓNIUS, AUSTRÁLIS entered by Mia Stampe (Copenhagen, DK).

Finland: UKKO, ILMATAR, KOKKO, LOUHI entered by Ismo Hirvonen (Tampere, FI)

France: ADAGIO, ALLEGRO, LARGO, VIVACE entered by Daniel Lellouch (c/o Rehovot, Israel)

Germany: TRISTAN & ISOLDE, ROMEO & JULIA entered by Manuela Saal (Köln, D)

Ireland: IMBOLC, BELTAINE, LUGHNASA, SAMHAIN entered by Grainne Duncan (Dublin, IR).

Italy: GEA, URANO, TETI, CRONO entered by Paola Benna (Avigliana-To, I).

Netherlands: KIN, UINAL, TUN, KATUN entered by Ben Jasper Fayer (Hoogeven, NL).

Norway: CHLOROS, ERYTHROS, AUREUS, LUTEUS entered by Joar Vatnaland (c/o Leeds, UK).

Portugal: IXCHELL, ITZAMNA, MAUINA, RAINBOW entered by Carlos Fernando Carvalhido Oliveira (Porto, P).

Spain: DIVEE, BEEDY, EEROT, BROT entered by Sergi Porter (Barcelona, E).

Sweden: FLUTE, VIOLIN, CELLO, PIANO entered by Ola Carlström (Huddige, SW).

Switzerland: SOLÉA, LUNÉA, EOLIA, ONDÉA entered by Luciana Favre (Riddes, CH).

United Kingdom: TANGO, RUMBA, SALSA, SAMBA entered by Raymond Cotton (Bristol, UK).

One of these lucky finalists will go on to gain a special grand prize when the winning names for the four spacecraft are announced at the ESOC event to mark the first Cluster II launch. These names will then become the official designations of the satellites.

Where to witness the first launch in Europe.

On 15 July media representatives are invited to cover the launch from various sites in Europe. ESA will broadcast the launch live, with images from Baikonur and ESA's Operations Centre ESOC in Darmstadt, Germany. ESA programme officials and spokespersons will be on hand at each site for interviews.

European Press Centre, Germany:

Location: ESA/ ESOC

Address: Robert-Bosch Strasse 5, Darmstadt, Germany

Opening hours: 13:30 -17:30

Contact point: Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin

Tel. + 49 6151 90 2696/ 2459

Fax. + 49 6151 90 2961


Location: ESA Headquarters

Address: 8-10 rue Mario Nikis, 75015 Paris, France

Opening hours: 13:30- 17:30

Contact point: Anne-Marie Rémondin

Tel. + 33 1 5369 7155

Fax. + 33 1 5369 7690

The Netherlands

Location: Noordwijk Space Expo

Address: Keplerlaan 3, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Opening hours: 13:30 - 17:30

Contact point: Heidi Graf

Tel. (till 14/07): + 31 71 565 3006

on launch date at Noordwijk Space Expo, tel.: + 31 71 364 6446

Fax.: + 31 71 565 5728

Italy Location: ESA/ESRIN

Address: Via G. Galilei, Frascati (Rome), Italy

Opening hours: 13:30- 17:30

Contact point: Franca Morgia

Tel. + 39 06 9418 0951

Fax. +39 06 9418 0952


Location ESA/VILSPA Satellite Station

Address: Villafranca del Castillo, Madrid

Opening hours: 13:30-17:30

Contact point: Fany Peña

Tel + 34 91 813 1211

Fax. +34 91 813 1212


Media representatives wishing to attend the launch event from any of the sites, are kindly requested to fill out the attached reply form and fax it back to the contact point at the site they have chosen.

The live launch video transmission will be available in analogue (PAL) and digital (MPEG-2) format, via satellite. There will be different language versions plus clean, international audio. The exact times of the transmission and the satellite parameters will be posted as from 10 July on the Internet at

The launch of the first pair of Clusters on 15 July will be covered live also on the Internet by ESA at and also by Spaceflight Now at

Note for editors.

ESA's Cluster II mission will study the complex interaction between the Sun and Earth in unprecedented detail. For the first time, four satellites will fly in close formation above the Earth's poles, studying the magnetic field around our planet and its continual battle with the energetic particles of the solar wind. This groundbreaking mission to explore the magnetosphere and provide the first small-scale, three-dimensional 'map' of near-Earth space is one of the key Cornerstones in ESA's Horizons 2000 long term science programme.

For more information on the winning entries, visit the ESA Science Website at:

For interviews with the winners up to 10 July, 2000, please contact:

Martine Caparros, tel:+31 71 565 3183, fax: +31 71 565 4101, E-mail:

Further information on the Cluster II mission - including regular updates from Baikonur - can be found on the Internet at:

ESA Communication Department,

Media Relations Office

Tel: +33(0)1. 53.69.7155

Fax: +33(0)1.53.69 7690

Further information on ESA at