An ESA proposal has been selected by the European Union as a promising candidate for an EU infrastructure research funding within the 6th framework programme of the European Commission. The target of this EU programme is to improve European research coordination as well as technological development and demonstration.
Negotiations to finalise a contract between ESA and the EU are under way. ESA’s SURE (International Space Station: a unique research infrastructure) proposal is a joint initiative by ESA's Commercial Promotion Office and the ISS Utilisation and Microgravity Promotion Division. The two ESA divisions joined forces in the SURE initiative to make the unique research environment of the ISS available to small and medium enterprises and the scientific community of EU member states (including the two EU aspirants Bulgaria and Romania) for whom it is typically harder to gain access to the Station.
Once endorsed, the contract will provide funding to those states to enable them to access the ISS and therefore implement and lead industrial or institutional research projects in the form of experiments on the ISS in cooperation with the Agency.
ESA will issue a corresponding Announcement of Opportunity by the end of this year, inviting Scientists and Small and Medium Enterprises to submit proposals to fly their experiments. Once all applications have been received and reviewed, experiments will be selected and subsequently performed on the ISS.