Brussels, 01 Sep 2004
The development phase of a European-built observation module for the International Space Station (ISS) has been completed and is ready to be transported to the Kennedy Space Center in the US.
The observation module, known as the 'cupola', has windows that will provide a panoramic view for observing and guiding operations on the outside of the station. It will also serve as a control tower for the ISS.
The cupola project is the outcome of a bilateral barter agreement between ESA and NASA, the US space agency, which sees ESA providing the cupola for the ISS in exchange for shuttle transportation of European equipment and experiments to the station.
The pressurised module will house command and control workstations and other hardware, enabling crew members to control the station's robotic arm in order to attach and assemble various station elements. It will also allow crew members to communicate within the ISS and with colleagues during spacewalk activities.
The cupola will have to go into storage at the Kennedy Space Center as it is not scheduled for launch until January 2009.
The completion of the module will be marked by a ceremony at the Alenia Spazio facility in Turin, Italy, on 6 September. Alenia Spazio acted as the prime contractor for the production of the cupola, coordinating six other firms from Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and Belgium.
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