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For Release: March 20, 1997
MARSHALL TO OVERSEE WORK ON TWO SPACE STATION NODES TO BE BUILT BY THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
Under a recent agreement signed by NASA with the European Space Agency (ESA), Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will oversee the design, development and testing of two International Space Station docking nodes, or ports, to be built by ESA.
The nodes will serve as building blocks -- passage ways connecting various elements of the Space Station.
"The Italian Space Agency and its contractor, Alenia, will provide the labor and materials to build the two ESA nodes," said Robert Crumbley, Space Station Nodes Office Manager at Marshall. "NASA will provide the outfitting equipment -- everything that goes inside the nodes to make them livable."
The original Space Station design called for two nodes to be built by NASA. There are now three nodes planned for the Station; one to be built by NASA and two by ESA.
The NASA node will be the first launched in the early stages of Space Station assembly.
The first ESA node is scheduled for launch in mid-2000 as one of the steps in the assembly of the Space Station. "It will attach to the Station's U.S. laboratory module and provide valuable docking ports for shuttle craft to dock to the Space Station," said Crumbley. "It will greatly enhance the design of the Station, serving as a major connecting link to all the international elements."
The node will be designed as an extension of the Mini-Pressurized Logistics Module, a component of the Space Station currently being built by the Italian Space Agency.
The other ESA-built node is scheduled for launch after Space Station assembly is completed in 2002.
The pact between NASA and ESA represents "a barter agreement, common within the Space Station program," explained Crumbley. "ESA is providing Space Station project hardware in exchange for NASA's launch services."
ESA is also supplying a crew refrigerator/freezer unit for the station's habitation module, a cryogenic freezer unit for the U.S. laboratory module, and a variety of other smaller hardware items.
Prepared by Joy Carter