Today ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration David Parker signed an agreement with Space Applications Services for the first commercial European opportunity to conduct research in space.
Dubbed ‘Ice Cubes’, the service offers room to run experiments and conduct research in weightlessness inside ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. It will allow experiments to run for over four months in space. Astronaut time and expert advice come as part of the package.
There are many benefits of running research without the effects of gravity, removing these from the equation can simplify our understanding natural phenomena while new manufacturing processes can be improved in weightlessness.
Ice Cubes are small modular containers that slot into a rack in the Columbus laboratory around the size of a microwave oven, connecting to electrical power and monitoring systems. They will transmit experiment data back to Earth through the International Space Station’s infrastructure.
“I am extremely pleased to kick off this new venture as it is a key moment for ESA’s human and robotic exploration strategy,” says David,
“As ESA looks towards exploration of our Solar System and further afield, we are making low Earth orbit accessible to all – Ice Cubes has a simple pricing policy that includes a discount for educational users so getting aboard the International Space Station has never been easier, we encourage universities, research organisations and companies to look at the services on offer.”
The agreement was signed today at the international Paris Air and Space Show at Le Bourget with the co-founder of Space Applications Services Leif Steinicke.
CEO of Space Applications Services Richard Aked says: “Space Applications Services has over thirty years of experience in designing, building and running space hardware and look forward to helping new customers realise their dream experiments – from conception to launch and data analysis.”
The first experiments are ready and scheduled to be operational on the Space Station next year.
More information and how to get started is available on the Ice Cubes website: http://icecubesservice.com/