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  ESA, Arianespace and the future of the ISS

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Author Topic:   ESA, Arianespace and the future of the ISS
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-23-2010 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space News reports that the European Space Agency (ESA) has been unable to win its member governments' approval of NASA's proposed five-year extension of operations of the International Space Station because of an unrelated dispute over financial support for Europe's Arianespace commercial launch services consortium.
ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain had hoped to confirm to NASA by the end of 2010 that ESA will continue its space station partnership until at least 2020. A continuation means paying Europe's share of slightly more than 8 percent of the station's common operating costs.

How to distribute that charge among ESA governments has been a subject of negotiations for several months. Germany, as the station's biggest supporter at ESA, wanted the agency to secure backing for a full station program between 2010 and 2020, which German officials estimated would cost 3.8 billion euros.

It is unlikely that a full 10-year commitment will be forthcoming in March, European government officials said. But a two-year program, coupled with a formal European commitment to continue its station partnership to 2020, is well within reach, they said.

But it was not possible to reach a decision at the December council because ESA had agreed that the Arianespace-aid issue and the station's extension would be tethered together to better ensure that both are resolved.

At issue, reports Space News is Arianespace's request for 240 million euros ($324 million) over two years to offset certain fixed costs of its business at its suppliers' factories in Europe and at the Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana.

ESA's member states are said to be generally in favor of aiding Arianespace but haven't agreed yet at what level of funding.

Interestingly, the recent orbital success by SpaceX is also factoring into ESA's plans for the ISS moving forward.

"SpaceX certainly got our attention," [ESA's space station director Simonetta] di Pippo said of the Dec. 8 launch, by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, of the company's Dragon unmanned cargo carrier on a demonstration flight. "This is a kind of revolution. We now know they can make it, and so we have to concentrate, on the government side, on new developments. We cannot just stick with our ATV now that the commercial sector is able to do this. Having visited the SpaceX facilities, I am not surprised by their success. But we need to react to it."


Posts: 888
From: UK
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 12-23-2010 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like European politicians have the same shortsightedness as some in the USA.

All times are CT (US)

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