January 15, 2010

ESA Wants ISS As Platform For Climate Science

General Jean-Jacques Dordain said on Thursday ESA is hoping to use the International Space Station as a platform to conduct research into global climate change.

Dordain, ESA Director, says so far 17 proposals have been received for this project.

The ISS is expected to be finished this year, with final costs around 100 billion dollars. The station will be used as a multi-purpose research facility in low orbit until at least 2015 and possibly beyond.

The first two modules of the ISS were launched and joined together in 1998, but it is still not complete. The last non-Russian modules are set for launch this February aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

Under current plans, the final component - a Russian lab module named "Nauka" - will be delivered on a Proton rocket late in 2011 - just four years before the ISS's planned demise.

During a New Year's meeting with reporters, Dordain said there are many exciting events to come this year.

Along with the Feb. 7 launch of two more ISS modules, another launch is set to take place on Feb. 25. An ESA satellite designed to measure the thickness of ice will be launched from Russia for Earth observation.

Also, a Russian rocket will be launched from French Guiana under a commercial arrangement with Arianespace, which markets the Ariane 5 heavy launcher.

Dordain says the agency plans on "stabilizing" it's spending after a couple of years.

A total of 3.744 billion euros (5.428 billion dollars) has been earmarked for 2010.


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