Thursday, December 30, 2010

ESA Fails to endorse ISS extension

The European Space Agency (ESA) was unable to win its member governments' approval of NASA's proposed five-year extension of operations of the International Space Station because of an unrelated dispute over financial support for EuropeÕs Arianespace commercial launch services consortium, ESA and European government officials said. 
As a result, no decision approving the station's extension to 2020 will be made before a March meeting of ESA governments. ESA already is committed to supporting the station through 2015, though the details remain to be worked out.

Meeting in its habitual closed-door session Dec. 15-16, ESA's ruling council issued a statement expressing general approval for the station's continued use, and also backing further support for Arianespace. 

The resolution produced during the meeting makes no specific reference to Evry, France-based Arianespace's request for 240 million euros ($324 million) over two years to offset certain fixed costs of its business at its suppliers' factories in Europe and at the Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana. 

Antonio Fabrizi, ESA's director of launchers, said the agency views Arianespace's request for 120 million euros per year in support as "a kind of ceiling. We will now examine the request in detail and report to our council in March on our conclusions. But our member states are generally in favor of some support. What remains is an examination of what the level of support should be."

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