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Science & Exploration

N° 18–2010: Call for Media: Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer arrives at launch site

11 August 2010

European media are invited to Florida on 26 August to view the next experiment to fly to the Space Station. One of the most exciting scientific instruments ever built, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will arrive that day at the Kennedy Space Center.

The quest for discovering the composition of the Universe is about to take a step further on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector designed to operate as an external module on the International Space Station. It will be delivered to the ISS by NASA's Space Shuttle in February 2011 and will be the largest scientific instrument to be installed on the Station.

During the unloading of AMS, following arrival at the Space Shuttle Landing Facility, media will have the opportunity to have a look at the hardware and talk to AMS scientists and managers.

Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, and Prof. Sam Ting, the experiment's leader from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be available for interviews.

Understanding our Universe

AMS will help us to understand the origin and structure of the Universe by searching for signs of antimatter and dark matter.

As a byproduct, AMS will also gather a host of information on stars and galaxies millions of light years from our home Galaxy.

AMS was built mostly by institutes in Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, together with the participation of China, Russia, Taiwan and US. In all, the experiment's team consists of 56 institutes from 16 countries.

ISS extended operations

"Europe contributed to the design and development of AMS to a large extent and the mission will be even more special to Europeans as a ESA astronaut, Roberto Vittori, will be flying on an opportunity provided by the Italian space agency, ASI," says Simonetta Di Pippo.

"We are going through exciting times and we move from one accomplishment to the other - the best way to pave the way to ISS extended operations through 2020 and beyond."


Media applying for credentials at Kennedy may submit requests via the Web at:

The deadline for all media to apply is 19 August 2010.

For further information, contact:
Nadjejda Vicente
Coordination Office
Directorate of Human Spaceflight
T +31 71 565 824

Arrival of Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
Shuttle Landing Facility
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Expected Timeline

9 a.m. Media arrive at Press Site
Security check of equipment
9:30 a.m. Bus depart Press Site for SLF
10-10:30 a.m. C-5 Aircraft lands at SLF
Passengers depart aircraft
10:30-11:30 a.m. Media interview opportunities
11:30 a.m. Immigration and clearances
12:30 p.m. Begin unloading hardware
1:30 p.m. Unload AMS
(Media photo opportunity)
2:30 p.m. Convoy to Space Station Processing Facility


Please note that there has been an editorial correction to today's press release. The original release stated that AMS is to be the "largest cryogenically cooled superconducting magnet" to fly in space. This was correct until the payload's magnet was exchanged for a smaller one earlier this year. The press release has been corrected on ESA's web site.