The International Space Station, ISS, is the world’s largest international exploration venture ever. Partners include the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe.
The Station is a permanent base in space, orbiting 400 kilometres above us. It offers unique opportunities to observe our Earth, carry out research in conditions of weightlessness and prepare for future human exploration of the Moon and beyond.
European technology plays an important role in the numerous international elements of the ISS. ESA’s key contributions for the Station are the Columbus space laboratory and the ATV, the Automated Transfer Vehicle.
Other components include the European Robotic Arm, for assembly tasks and handling of equipment, the Cupola, a working area from which to control critical manoeuvres in space and keep a watchful eye on our Earth, and two essential connecting modules or “nodes”, commissioned by NASA and built by European industry under an ESA contract.