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Airbus and ESA continue ISS operations with new agreement

Stephen Kuper
ISS operations with new agreement

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed an annual renewal contract with Airbus on continuing the operation and use of European components on the International Space Station (ISS) – the contract is worth around €16 million ($26.1 million).

The comprehensive services contract ensures the continued operation and use of European designed and manufactured ISS components.

For astronauts conducting research on the ISS, it is essential that all systems function reliably. An international team led by ESA is responsible for smooth operation of the life-support systems, power supply, flight control systems, laboratory equipment and experimental payloads in the European Columbus module.

The agreement between ESA and Airbus is valid until the end of 2020 and includes the following work packages:

  • Support during operations, e.g. preparing and conducting experiments, as well as providing engineering support;
  • Preparing ISS missions, including the integration of ISS payloads;
  • Maintaining, repairing and developing systems; and
  • Maintaining and developing software.

Andreas Hammer, head of space exploration at Airbus, said, "I would like to thank ESA for their continued confidence in our employees’ work. The ISS, the epitome of peaceful co-operation between many nations, has served as humanity’s outpost in low-Earth orbit for 20 years."

Airbus has a wealth of technical expertise in human space flight and ISS operations, having developed and built the Columbus laboratory, the ATV space transporter, a number of experimental payloads and special flight and mission control computers on behalf of ESA.

Since 2004, Airbus has been ESA’s partner in operating the European ISS components. In April, the ISS was expanded by the addition of the Airbus-developed ‘Bartolomeo’ commercial payload platform, enhancing the spectrum of research activities on the space laboratory with a number of additional potential applications.

"Our dedicated systems experts help to ensure that the astronauts on board the station have a safe environment in which to live and work, enabling them to continue with their valuable research in zero gravity," Hammer said. 

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