ESA Commitment to ISS Extension Contingent Upon Solving Arianespace Funding Issue

International Space Station

ESA Unable To Secure Commitment to Station Extension
Space News

The European Space Agency (ESA) was unable to win its member governments’ approval of NASA’s proposed five-year extension of operations of the international space station because of an unrelated dispute over financial support for Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch services consortium, ESA and European government officials said….

ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain had hoped to confirm to NASA by the end of 2010 that ESA will continue its space station partnership until at least 2020. A continuation means paying Europe’s share of slightly more than 8 percent of the station’s common operating costs.

How to distribute that charge among ESA governments has been a subject of negotiations for several months. Germany, as the station’s biggest supporter at ESA, wanted the agency to secure backing for a full station program between 2010 and 2020, which German officials estimated would cost 3.8 billion euros.

In a Dec. 17 interview, [ESA Space Station Director Simonetta] di Pippo said there is virtually no doubt that ESA governments will agree to the five-year extension. “In the resolution we adopted at the council meeting, our member states indicated that they would maintain their commitments under the IGA,” di Pippo said, referring to the Intergovernmental Agreement that binds the space station partners.

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