New space mission

June 14, 1996

Space scientists have vowed to rebuild Cluster, the European space mission which exploded just after its launch in French Guiana last week. They want to build a more modest version of the mission - but the source of funding for a replacement, anything between Pounds 20 million and Pounds 100 million, is uncertain.

Cluster exploded 40 seconds after its launch on the European Space Agency's new rocket launcher, Ariane V, last week. Four identical satellites, each carrying 11 instruments, were lost. United Kingdom-based scientists had been principal investigators for four of the instruments.

Ken Pounds, chief executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, said: "Our main aim at the moment is to recover as much of the lost science as possible." The European Space Agency's science programme committee will discuss the problem on June 21.

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