ESA to sign contract with DLR for Columbus Control Centre

ESA will sign a EUR 37.7 m with DLR on 31 March
27 March 2003

ESA PR 20-2003. On 31 March at Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Germany, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight Mr Jörg Feustel-Büechl will sign a EUR 37.7 m contract with DLR, the German national agency for aerospace research and spaceflight, to develop the Columbus Control Centre for the European Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS).

Columbus is a European science laboratory built to facilitate European research in space. It is the cornerstone of the European contribution to the ISS project and represents Europe as a key partner in the Space Station programme. ESA expects to launch the laboratory in October 2004.

The main functions of the Columbus Control Centre will be to command and control the Columbus laboratory systems, to provide and operate the European ground communications network for the facility, and to coordinate operations for the European payloads on board the International Space Station.

Columbus Laboratory (Cutaway view)
Columbus Laboratory (Cutaway view)

"The Columbus laboratory and the Columbus Control Centre are vital elements of the European participation in the International Space Station," said Mr. Feustel-Büechl, "the signature with DLR for the Columbus Control Centre demonstrates Europe’s commitment to the International Space Station programme".

Once the Columbus Control Centre is set up in Oberpfaffenhofen, on the premises of DLR's German Space Operations Centre (GSOC) and ready for operations in 2004, DLR will take responsibility under a further ESA contract for management of the centre and coordinate and support all on-orbit operations of the Columbus laboratory on behalf of ESA.

The Columbus assembly mission, scheduled for October 2004, and the first period of Columbus operations will be managed by an Integrated Flight Control Team consisting of DLR, Astrium and ESA personnel led by an ESA Flight Director. For subsequent periods, DLR will lead the Columbus Laboratory Flight Control Team, with up to 90 operators. The team will act on ESA's behalf vis-à-vis NASA and other ISS partners for the execution of all Columbus operations.

Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)
Cutaway view of the Automated Transfer Vehicle

The Columbus Control Centre has to be operational in time to provide ground communication services for the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Control Centre in Toulouse, France. The ATV is scheduled to be launched by Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2004 and is designed to resupply the ISS and carry out orbit reboost operations.

In placing this contract, ESA is recognising the long-standing experience and competence of DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen in the management of manned spaceflight operations. DLR has been involved in spacecraft operations for 35 years and in the management of manned spaceflight missions since the first European Spacelab mission in 1983. Since 1998 DLR specialists have contributed to the design and preparation of the Columbus Control Centre.

Media representatives wishing to attend the contract signature event at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen on 31 March at 11:00 are kindly requested to complete the attached accreditation form and return it, preferably by fax, to ESA Media Relations Service in Paris (Fax: +33(0)1.53.69.7690).

For further information on the Columbus Control Centre, please contact:

Robert Chesson
Head of the Operations Management Division
Directorate of Human Spaceflight
Tel: +31 71 656 3341
Fax: + 31 71 565 5431

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