ESA's Director General, Antonio Rodota (left) and the President of the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), Sergio de Julio, signed on 12 December 1997 in Rome an arrangement concerning the management, execution and funding of Nodes 2 and 3 for the International Space Station (ISS) in which Europe, together with the USA, Russia, Japan and Canada, is participating as one of the five International Partners. Under this arrangement, ESA is entrusting to ASI the responsibility for the development and manufacture of the two Nodes, which are being built under the prime contractorship of the Italian company Alenia Aerospazio.
The Nodes are the interconnecting elements between various ISS laboratory and habitation modules. They also provide for crew and experiment support. The Station will have three Nodes [Image Date: 12-12-97] [98.05.001-002]