Europe has a substantial share in the International Space Station (ISS ). ESA ’s main hardware contributions are Columbus, a multipurpose science and technology laboratory, and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), a service vehicle essential for the ISS . In addition, ESA is also providing two of the three nodes of the ISS , the Cupola, the European Robotic Arm (ERA ), the Data-Management System for the Russian Service Module, and various facilities for scientific research.
The Space Station also needs a crew to operate it and ESA has an astronaut corps, consisting of 8 Europeans, who are training for the upcoming missions. They are supported by a team of ground support staff who work in the European training, control and user centres.
With the demise of the Space Shuttle and the continuing debate in the USA as to what should follow it, Europe’s plans for human spaceflight are the subject of much debate.
Recorded: September 19, 2011
About the speaker:
Dr Thomas Reiter
Director of Human Spaceflight & Operations, European Space Agency
Thomas Reiter holds the European record of 350 days in space – the most experienced non-American or non-Russian astronaut by time. In 2007, after his active astronaut career, he became a member of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR ) responsible for Space Research and Technology.
In April 2011, he became Director of ESA ’s new Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations (D/HSO ), responsible for managing Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station, ESA ’s human spaceflight activities, the operations of ESA ’s missions and management of the corresponding ground segments.