ESA PR 59-2001. Today in Oviedo, Spain, the International Space Station will be honoured with the 2001 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. The Director General of the European Space Agency, Antonio Rodotà, and representatives of the other ISS partner space agencies, from the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan, will receive the award from HRH the Prince of Asturias.
The Prince of Asturias Foundation granted this Award in recognition of the efforts made "to achieve international cooperation that have been necessary to turn this enormous orbiting laboratory for scientific research for a greater understanding of our planet into a reality".
HRH the Prince of Asturias will also congratulate the six astronauts now on board the Space Station during a satellite link starting at 15:00 CEST (13:00 GMT) today. The astronauts include a crew of one American and two Russians who have been on board since August and another crew of two Russians and one French who are halfway through an eight-day mission.
Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada are undertaking the biggest international space project of all time. Once completed, the 450-tonne Space Station will be a world-class research centre providing a platform for advances in science and technology 400 km above the Earth. Its assembly in orbit began in 1998 and successive crews of astronauts from various countries have been living and working on board since November 2000.
The Prince of Asturias Foundation, whose Honorary President is HRH the Prince of Asturias, is a non-profit institution whose aims are to consolidate the ties between the the Principality of Asturias and its Prince and to promote science, technology, art and literature.
The Award for International Cooperation is given "to an individual, group or institution whose work has contributed in an exemplary and significant way to mutual understanding, progress and brotherhood among nations". Previous winners have included Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, Itzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Note to editors:
This event will be broadcast live on the Spanish network TVE and the images will be freely available to all broadcasters via TVE (pool arrangement). The images from the ISS will also be available via NASA TV. The ESA TV Service will transmit them to Europe. For satellite details, see http://television.esa.int.