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European high technology for the International Space Station

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Old May 10th 04, 02:40 PM
Jacques van Oene
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Default European high technology for the International Space Station

European high technology for the International Space Station ILA/Berlin,

Bremen , 10 May 2004

Assembly of the International Space Station has come to a halt after the
Columbia accident early last year. Although there will be a delay of at
least 24 months in the further assembly of the station in space, preparation
on Earth continues according to plan. The space station, 400 kilometres away
from Earth and financed by 15 nations, is regarded as the most ambitious
technology project ever in the history of man. Considering a total weight of
about 450 tonnes, a size of 100 m x 80 m x 40 m and a usable interior volume
of more than 1,000 m³, space station construction requires significant
efforts. About 40 flights will be still necessary to deliver the different
components into space until assembly of the station and its laboratories
will be completed in 2008. The station is designed for a service life of at
least ten years. Since 31 October 2001, crews of three were permanently
working aboard the International Space Station. As a consequence of the
Columbia loss and the logistics difficulties resulting from the Shuttle
fleet being grounded, the permanent crew onboard the space station was
reduced to two in April 2003. In the final assembly phase the permanent crew
will consist of six astronauts.

The multi-functional Columbus space laboratory will be ready for shipment to
Kennedy Space Center by March 2006. In 1996, the European Space Agency ESA
commissioned EADS SPACE Transportation with complete system development and
integration of the Columbus laboratory, Europe's major contribution to this
multinational project. EADS SPACE Transportation will supply Columbus at a
contractually agreed fixed price of ? 715 million. Through subcontracts,
EADS SPACE Transportation distributes more than 60% of this amount to
partner companies and small and medium-sized companies from various sectors.
Launch postponement allows additional integration work on ColumbusThe
primary structure, the "case" of Columbus, was built by the Italian partner
Alenia Spazio (Turin) and delivered to EADS SPACE Transportation in
September 2001. EADS SPACE Transportation is responsible for the equipment
of the Columbus module as well as for carrying out all system tests
required. The Columbus laboratory has been completely integrated by now.
Energy supply systems, video equipment, the fail-safe data management system
DMS (Data Management System), the environmental control and life support
system ECLSS and the debris protection system were tested and installed in
the Columbus structure. After successful completion of the so-called
Columbus Design Qualification Review, ESA and NASA confirmed the
"airworthiness" of the Columbus laboratory in summer last year.

Launch postponement allows to carry out additional testing and integration
work at EADS's facilities in Bremen, Germany, until delivery of the Columbus
laboratory scheduled for early 2006. Measures will include testing and
integration of external payload on the external platform (balcony) of
Columbus, installation and removal of a US rack (Human Research Facility) as
well as two end-to-end system validation tests (scheduled for the middle of
2004/end of 2005). These tests are intended to check the data and
communication links between Columbus and the mission control centres in
Germany and the United States (Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria, and Houston,
Texas) in real time.

The concept of the Columbus module is based on the experience EADS SPACE
Transportation gained in the development and construction of Spacelab since
the end of the 1970s. Spacelab flew 22 Space Shuttle missions and had been
in service until 1998.

Similar to Spacelab, the Columbus laboratory, which has a length of eight
metres and a diameter of 4.5 metres, will be equipped with ten standardised
payload racks to accommodate experiment equipment. In addition, there will
be three system racks, which, for instance, will serve for water supply
control, and three storage racks. Launch mass of Columbus will be almost 13
tonnes including a payload mass of 2.5 tonnes. The laboratory provides
sufficient space for three crewmembers to carry out research under
microgravity conditions. Columbus is designed for a total service life of 15

Columbus will allow scientists basic research in all fields of
biotechnology, medical, materials, fluid and life science as well as
experiments within the framework of applied technology projects which could
hardly be carried out under gravity conditions on Earth. The reason:
materials or fluids react differently in space than in laboratories on
Earth. Metallic alloys merge in space which would not form an optimum
compound under gravity conditions. The same applies to liquid substances
which quite easily form a mixture in space but which do not on Earth.
Scientific equipment for ColumbusEADS SPACE Transportation has been a
renowned expert on the development and construction of experiment facilities
for many decades. Biolab was the first facility to be integrated into
Columbus in Bremen. Biolab is a facility allowing experiments on cells,
tissue cultures, microorganisms, small plants and invertebrates. The
European Drawer Rack experiment platform, the European Physiology Module
(EPM) designed for human medicine projects and the Fluid Science Lab (FSL)
were integrated next. FSL will allow experiments in the field of fluid
physics. The Protein Crystallisation and Diagnostic Facility (PCDF), the
Advanced Protein Crystallisation Facility (APCF) and the Cardiolab (CL) are
also intended for use in the Columbus laboratory but will be integrated
after docking with the International Space Station.
Columbus facility for astronaut trainingAfter integration of the Columbus
experiment facilities was completed, final system testing was performed in
Bremen until the end of last year. Testing comprised among other things
electrical, mechanical, thermal and life support system analyses.

Parallel to the integration phase, a second Columbus facility for crew
training on laboratory systems was developed and delivered to NASA's
astronaut training centre in Houston in July 2003. The facility has been
provided with the same simulator systems as are available in the first
Columbus training facility being in operation in the European Astronauts
Centre (EAC) in Cologne since September 2002. In addition to the development
and supply of hardware components and systems, EADS SPACE Transportation is
responsible for the astronauts' training on the systems of the Columbus
laboratory and the ATV supply vehicle. EADS Transportation is also
responsible for the preparation, performance and control of missions
associated with the operation and utilisation of the space station. EADS
SPACE Transportation (75%) and Alenia Spazio (25%) will sign a joint venture
contract concerning the operation and utilisation of the European part of
the International Space Station by the end of the year. Germany will have a
25-35% share in ESA's contribution to the ISS operating phase.
Data management systems for the space stationIn addition to experiment
facilities, the Columbus laboratory will be provided with an electronic
"brain". The DMS data management system is a fail-safe computer system for
which EADS SPACE developed essential components. DMS controls and monitors
operation of all module systems such as thermal system, communications, life
support and energy supply systems. The computer system is also provided with
telemetry and telecommand interfaces ensuring communication with ground
stations. This will allow system experts in the control centres in Houston
(Texas, USA) and Oberpfaffenhofen (Bavaria, Germany) to monitor the
laboratory systems and to take action, if necessary.

Under contract to ESA, EADS SPACE Transportation also developed the complete
DMS-R data management system for the Russian service module Zvezda, which
was launched in July 2000 and has been operating successfully since then.
DMS-R features two so-called fault-tolerant computers, the specific system
architecture of which ensures the highest safety possible with respect to
space station operation. During the entire service life of the space
station, DMS-R will control the attitude of the complex as well as docking
manoeuvres of Russian supply capsules.
Robotic systems to support the astronautsIn order to be able to support the
astronauts in the assembly and maintenance of exterior station elements
during the construction and operational phase, several remote-controlled
manipulator systems will be installed at structures and modules in the years
to come. One of these systems is the European Robotic Arm, ERA, for which
the EADS SPACE Transportation will supply essential systems such as end
effectors and onboard computers. Another system is the Canadian robotic arm,
which has already been attached to the station.
Experiment facilities for the space stationUnder subcontract to NASA, EADS
SPACE Transportation developed the medical system LBNP (Lower Body Negative
Pressure Device). The LBNP, known as "negative-pressure pants", was already
employed on the last Spacelab mission in 1998. The system allows medical
scientists to examine the regulatory processes of the human cardiovascular
system and to develop new methods to minimise disturbance of the astronauts'
health during long missions under microgravity conditions. The LBNP was
originally developed under contract to Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und
Raumfahrt (DLR, Cologne).

Under contract to ESA and DLR, EADS SPACE Transportation supplies additional
experiment facilities for use in various station modules. These facilities
comprise the Materials Science Laboratory (MSL), the Modular Cultivation
System (MCS), the Refrigerator Freezer System (RFR) and the Cryo Freezer
Rack (CFR) as well as the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) designed for
handling sensitive and toxic materials and substances. The MSG has been
operating in the US module Destiny since 2002. In addition to the ISS
crewmembers, European astronauts, who came to the space station on so-called
taxi flights, carried out a multitude of experiments in the MSG. Under
contract to the French Space Agency CNES, EADS SPACE Transportation also
supplies DECLIC experiment facilities for the fluid physics sector.
ATV - space station supplyThe Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV, is also an
essential European contribution to the International Space Station. The ATV
is a transport vehicle that carries up to 6.5 tonnes of supplies and
propellants to the space station. Furthermore, the ATV will perform re-boost
manoeuvres in regular intervals to lift up the space station which due to
the residual atmosphere existing at an altitude of about 400 kilometres is
descending time and time again. At the end of the mission, the ATV will pick
up waste material from the station and undergo controlled burn-up during
re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. The ATV is the first space vehicle
developed in Europe to carry out rendezvous and docking manoeuvres fully
automatically. EADS SPACE Transportation is the industrial prime contractor
for this new generation of European supply vehicles. The first ATV, called
Jules Verne, will be launched by an Ariane 5 in September 2005.

Bremen, May 2004


Jacques :-)



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