The International Space Station takes shape: Including “Zarya”, “Unity”,
“Zvezda”, “Destiny”, frame structures and solar collectors, the station has
a weight of 113 tons already. Since 31 October 2000, crews of three have
been permanently working at the “construction site in space”. 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 tons, a size of 100 m x 80 m x
40 m and a usable interior volume of 1,200 m3, space station construction
requires significant efforts: About 50 flights will be necessary to deliver
the different components into space until the station and its laboratories
will start operation in 2005.

Meanwhile, development and production of hardware components for the
European Columbus laboratory will continue according to plan. In 1996, the
European Space Agency ESA commissioned Astrium’s Space Infrastructure
business division with the entire development and integration of the
Columbus laboratory representing Europe’s principal contribution to this
multinational project. Astrium will deliver Columbus at a contractually
agreed fixed price of DM 1.3 billion. Through subcontracts, Astrium
distributes a considerable part of this amount to partner companies and
small and medium-sized companies from various sectors.

Utilising many years’ experience in space laboratories
The concept of the Columbus module is based on the experience Astrium gained
in the development of Spacelab since the end of the seventies. Spacelab had
been in service until 1998, under US management in the end. Similar to
Spacelab, the Columbus module, with a length of 6.5 metres and a diameter of
4.5 metres, will also be equipped with standardised payload racks to
accommodate experiment equipment. Launch mass of Columbus will be almost 13
tons including a payload mass of 2.5 tons. The module provides sufficient
space for three crewmembers to carry out their work and has a total service
life of 15 years, which is consistent with the service life of the entire
space station.

By using the laboratory module Columbus, scientists from many research
sectors on Earth hope to achieve progress in basic research as well as in
the field of applied technology projects, which could hardly be achieved
under gravity conditions on Earth. One of the most important aspects in this
context is the fact that materials or fluids react differently in space than
in laboratories on earth. So it will be possible to merge metallic alloys
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. After manned space projects were mainly financed out
of public funds in the initial stage, it is now the declared aim of ESA and
its member countries to also win over commercial customers for working in
space in the future. Columbus will provide the framework required to achieve
this goal.

Data management systems for the space station

In addition to the laboratory module including all facilities required for
energy supply and communications as well as the interfaces to the other
station elements, Astrium will supply technologies required for operations
of the entire station. These technologies comprise, for instance, the Data
Management System DMS-R which is integrated into the Russian service module
Zvezda. DMS-R is a highly sophisticated and extremely fault-tolerant
computer system and provides attitude control for the space station. In
addition, the system ensures fast and trouble-free communication between the
“outpost” in space and the ground stations in Europe, Russia and the United

Robotic systems

In 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 Astrium 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

Astrium used own funds to finance the development of the free-flying,
remote-controlled observation system Inspector. Integrated high-performance
cameras will monitor all the station elements to thus facilitate maintenance
and repair in those areas that are difficult to access. The prototype of the
Inspector was successfully tested on a Mir mission in 1997. The experience
gained from this mission is currently being used in the construction of the
“Micros” system designed for the new space station.

Experiment facilities for scientific utilisation

Under subcontract to the US Space Administration NASA, Astrium 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, Astrium also supplies 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 (CER) as well as
the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) designed for handling of sensitive
and toxic materials and substances. The Protein Crystallisation and
Diagnostic Facility (PCDF), the Advanced Protein Crystallisation Facility
(APCF), the laboratories CL (Cardiolab) and Biolab for research in the
biology and life science sectors as well as the physical Fluid Science
Laboratory (FSL) are intended for use in the Columbus module itself.
Space station supply

Other supplies, for which Astrium is responsible, comprise the unmanned
supply vehicle ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), development and operation
of the logistic pallet system ICC for the US Space Shuttle as well as
participation in the development of the X-38 demonstrator of the future
transportation and astronaut rescue vehicle.

Astronaut training

In addition to the development and supply of hardware components and
systems, Astrium is responsible for the entire training of the astronaut
team in handling the relevant facilities. For this purpose, the Space
Infrastructure business division established the only full-scale mock-up of
the laboratory worldwide in Bremen to give users an impression of their
future workplace. Associated with this task is the development of a Columbus
simulator, which will provide extensive opportunities for crew training on
ground, two years before the laboratory will be put into service in space.
Astrium is a joint company of EADS European Aeronautic Defence and Space
Company and BAE Systems.

Paris/Le Bourget, June 2001

Your contact:

Astrium Space Infrastructure

Mrs. Kirsten Leung

Phone: +49-421-539-5326

Fax: +49-421-539-4534