Airbus Defence and Space

ESA commissions Airbus Defence and Space with operation of ISS

Bremen, 30 June 2008 - The European Space Agency ESA has transferred all activities involved in the operation and exploitation of the European share of the International Space Station ISS to Airbus Defence and Space as prime industrial contractor.

  • Service agreement worth €278 million signed in Bremen
  • Building of Columbus and ATV now followed by operational phase
  • Efficient research under zero-gravity conditions assured

ESA and Airbus Defence and Space have concluded a service agreement to this effect for a fixed price of €278 million, covering the period from 2008 up to and including 2010. The agreement combines all activities involved in operating the European contributions to the Space Station, from mission control, engineering tasks and the provision of supplies, to communications with the ground station. In its capacity as prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space will ensure that the European sections of the Space Station function smoothly and that high-quality research can be performed.

Dr. Michael Menking, head of Orbital Systems and Space Exploration at Airbus Defence and Space: “We at Airbus Defence and Space have combined the know-how and experience we have gained through a wide range of development programmes. This enables us to offer end-to-end service over a long period of time. Airbus Defence and Space’s strategy of building on its existing competence is turning out very successful, and ESA is confident of our abilities. The foundation of our strategy is Airbus Defence and Space’s in-depth systems know-how and engineering expertise. In addition to the technology itself, we work with the customer to develop joint solutions and define the appropriate services. Complex tasks can best be mastered through close co-operation and clearly defined responsibilities,” explains Menking.

The service agreement signed is worth €278 million and covers the period from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2010. It is based on the service provided by Airbus Defence and Space since 2004 to exploit the European part of the International Space Station ISS. There are plans to prolong the service agreement for the entire service life of the ISS. Prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space leads a European consortium of some 40 partnering enterprises from the altogether ten European countries involved in the International Space Station. The most important partners include Thales Alenia Space, Turin, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) with the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich.

The services included in the scope of the contract are divided into work packages. They comprise astronaut training, mission control and preparation, engineering for technical integration, particularly in the case of extensions for new experiments and research facilities, the ground segment including communications, and logistics and maintenance.

The Columbus space laboratory is Europe’s main contribution to the International Space Station. Experiments in a variety of scientific disciplines are to be carried out there under zero-gravity conditions. The focus will be placed on physics, materials science, biology and medicine. Many of these experiments, such as the measurement of solar spectral irradiance, will actually take place on the outside of the Columbus module. In order for the space laboratory to fulfil its intended purpose to the full, it is important that the research projects, which are perfectly attuned to one another, should be carried out smoothly.

In its capacity as prime contractor for the Columbus space laboratory and its payload and for the Automated Transfer Vehicle ATV, Airbus Defence and Space has made significant contributions to the International Space Station. Now that the construction phase for these contributions has been completed, Airbus Defence and Space is assuming a key role in their operation and exploitation. According to the present plans of the participating countries, the International Space Station will remain in operation at least until the year 2020. As of 2009, the permanent crew of the International Space Station is to be increased from the present three to ultimately six crew members.

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2007, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.5 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.

AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.1 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.


Media Contacts:

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR) Phone: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK) Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP) Phone: +34 91 586 37 41

International Space StationISS