Joint statement - International Space Station Heads of Agency meeting

Artist's impression of the International Space Station
6 December 2002

ESA PR 77-2002. Space agency leaders from the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia met today in Tokyo, Japan, to review and further promote International Space Station (ISS) cooperation.

The meeting participants reviewed in detail the significant progress that has been made in the development and deployment of the ISS elements and in the implementation of the ISS Program Action Plan adopted at the last Heads of Agency meeting in June 2002. This Plan provided the framework for the Partnership’s efforts over the last six months to select an option path to meet the utilization and resource requirements of the ISS.

At this meeting, the participants unanimously endorsed an option path that enables maximised ISS utilization in the 2006/2007 timeframe through greater use of ISS research elements. The implementation of an expanded scientific program on ISS would be supported by phased growth of ISS capabilities, significantly increased quantity of permanent crew, with crew rescue initially provided by additional Soyuz crew rescue vehicles and eventually by both Soyuz and Orbital Space Plane. Additional Space shuttle, and other vehicle support would also enhance this unique on-orbit research facility.

The participants also agreed upon a process for selecting an ISS configuration beyond the accommodation of the remaining International Partner elements. This process includes further technical and programmatic assessment, cost estimation, and internal budgetary reviews by each partner. It will lead to approval of a configuration option recommendation in March 2003, the selection of a revised ISS configuration option by June/July 2003, and agreement on a configuration by December 2003.

The Partners noted with great enthusiasm the continuing success of ISS assembly activities and confirmed that development of the remaining ISS elements is proceeding as planned. They look forward to successful accommodation of key ISS partner elements by February 2004 that will allow the accommodation of remaining partner ISS utilization and infrastructure elements. This will enable improved scientific and technological capabilities in the 2006/2007 timeframe.

They also highlighted the third year of permanent human presence and research on board the ISS and the recent successful launch of the ISS Expedition Six crew. This crew will concentrate on assembly tasks and the conduct of essential scientific research on behalf of all of the ISS Partners to improve life on Earth while exploring the frontier of space. The Partners look forward to increasing tangible benefits of this unprecedented international cooperation as the Partnership proceeds with assembly, and increased utilization of, this world-class research facility.

For further information, please contact:

Franco Bonacina
ESA Media Relations Service
Tel: +33(0)1.53.69.7155
Fax : +33(0)1.53.69.7690

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