ESA’s Bartolomeo Commercial Facility Connected to Space Station

The Bartolomeo platform, with blue hinges centre-right of the photo, is at the end of the Dextre attachment that is part of Canada’s 16-m robotic arm for the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The first European external commercial facility on the International Space Station arrived at its new home last week: the Columbus laboratory module.

Bartolomeo, named after the younger brother of Christopher Columbus, was installed by robotic arm on the forward-facing side of the space laboratory on 2 April 2020.

The platform, with blue hinges centre-right of the photo, is at the end of the Dextre attachment that is part of Canada’s 16-m robotic arm for the International Space Station. In an intricate process controlled from Earth, the robotic arm took Bartolomeo from the external trunk of the Dragon cargo vessel and moved it into position on Columbus. The 20th SpaceX Dragon mission departed from the Space Station today to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Bartolomeo is built and operated by Airbus, and hosted by ESA on the International Space Station. The facility has a clear view of Earth and the service benefits from high-speed data transfer to provide easy access to space at competitive prices.

Previous spacewalks prepared Columbus’ hull to receive the new host facility by adapting support pins to which Bartolomeo will connect. Astronauts will perform another spacewalk to install Bartolomeo in the next few months, together with a new terminal called ColKa that will upgrade the European space laboratory.

The photograph is taken with Earth above, the blue and white facility, space storm hunter, ASIM, can also be seen top right. This Danish-led facility is pointing down at Earth and monitoring the events that occur above thunderstorms. It celebrates its second year in orbit this month. Results coming in have already shown how lightning can affect the upper reaches of our atmosphere and much more.