NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) announced their agreement on the
framework of a potential bilateral cooperative agreement, that could result
in ASI development of a U.S. Habitation Module for the International Space
Station. This agreement allows the U.S. to explore an alternative approach
to achieve full crew Habitation for the ISS within the constructs of the
President’s FY2002 budget blueprint guidance and budget run out.

The Habitation Module which was to house crew quarters and other essential
habitability functions for three to four additional ISS crew was considered
a high cost-risk element, and as such, its funding was redirected to address
cost challenges in maintaining the core U.S. assembly elements and high
priority ISS objectives. This cooperative proposal will be part of NASA’s
ongoing program assessment, which includes possible decisions to develop and
deploy U.S. elements or enhancements beyond completion of the U.S. core,
within available funding. Successful restoration of a habitation capability
for six or more crew would significantly increase the availability of crew
time to conduct important research.

NASA and ASI are discussing launch services, additional Space Shuttle and
ISS astronaut crew opportunities and assignments, ISS utilization, and
increased visibility for the Italian role in the ISS partnership as possible
consideration for Italy. Any increase in U.S. research utilization to be
provided to ASI would be enabled through the increased capabilities realized
through the provision of habitation for an expanded crew complement.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NASA and ASI will be required to
formally document NASA and ASI’s respective responsibilities in a legally
binding document. The Framework signed today would form the basis for a
potential MOU which NASA and ASI would sign after completion of the program
assessment and subsequent negotiations.