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Science & Exploration

N° 28–2001: ISS ready for utilisation

15 May 2001

First European conference on industrial and commercial utilisation of the International Space Station

At the first joint press conference of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German space agency DLR, hosted by the national chamber of commerce of German industry (BDI/DIHT) in Berlin yesterday, representatives of the two space agencies informed an international audience of journalists about the objectives of ISS Forum 2001 and the possibilities for industry and business to utilise the potential of the International Space Station (ISS).

Both space agencies have taken the necessary steps to ensure the ISS is available on a long-term basis for utilisation by research institutes and private-sector investors. The first industrial R&D activities onboard the orbiting station started earlier this year.

From 5 to 7 June an international event called "ISS Forum 2001" will for the first time bring together all of the international partners in the project to present the complete spectrum of options for industrial utilisation of the ISS, including requirements for access and financial aspects. That event is to be held at the Estrel Convention Centre in Berlin. Fifteen countries, including ten European nations, are involved in constructing, operating and exploiting the ISS.

ISS Forum 2001: an industry marketplace

ISS Forum 2001 will inform potential users about management and engineering aspects of the ISS programme; it is aimed at companies that have an interest in exploiting the R&D environment offered by this space-borne 'technology incubator'. What is at stake is the competitive edge to be gained by incorporating its unique possibilities in corporate R&D programmes.

"The ISS has been in the headlines recently because of the trip by space tourist Dennis Tito, but what is really important for us is the question of who gets to explore its enormous R&D potential, and how," explains Klaus Berge, space projects director at the DLR's Berlin office. "The first few projects have already been started."

"The aim of ISS Forum 2001 is to make the full catalogue of new and innovative possibilities available to a larger user population," adds Karl Knott, the head of ESA's microgravity and Space Station utilisation department. "Our message is that the ISS is open for business, and that investment now means important economic benefits in the medium term."

ISS owners and operators as well as users will be fielding questions from conference participants. Among the highlights of the event: a multimedia presentation and a live link to the crew on board the ISS.

"A virtual lab tour"

The multimedia tour of the ISS and the live communication session with the crew, in conjunction with a multitude of technical presentations, will give participants a direct look at the actual utilisation environment in the ISS. European scientists are playing an important role in experiments currently being conducted to grow plasma crystals in its 'weightless' environment, leading to development of industrial applications of these completely new technologies.

The first permanent crew of the ISS ("Expedition One") will also be present to report on their work on board the station.

For participant information and to find out about the "Business Stop-Over" option, see the conference home page:

For more information, please contact:

Clare Mattok

Tel. : +33(0)1.5369.7412

Fax: +33(0)1.5369.7690

For questions about the event, contact:

Vanadis Weber

Tel: +49.(0)2203.601-3068

Fax: + 49(0)2203.601.3249


For further information:

Clare Mattok, ESA

Tel: +33(0)1.5369.7412

Vanadis Weber, DLR

Tel: +49(0)2203.601.3068