ESA chief hits at 'anarchy' over space station planning

Jun 20, 2011

Europe's space chief on Monday said the International Space Station faced lean times as a result of the US shuttle phase-out and said project planning for transport to the ISS had been "anarchy".

Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the (ESA), said the scheduled phase-out of the US space shuttle meant "we are not in a very comfortable situation, and that's just a euphemism."

"The biggest lesson from the international programme is entirely the lack of a joint transportation policy," he said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.

"The is a splendid cooperation between five partners, but they did make a mistake... we didn't discuss things sufficiently," Dordain said.

"Each party made a unilateral decision," Dordain said, admitting though that this approach was "justified on individual grounds."

"NASA made a unilateral decision to stop the shuttle, ESA took the unilateral decision to develop the ATV, Japan took the unilateral decision to develop an HTV. Anarchy," Dordain said.

The ATV () and the HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) are unmanned supply ships, as is Russia's veteran Progress freighter.

The shuttle has been the key means to take humans and freight to and from the ISS.

Its retirement after its last mission, starting July 8, means that the station will depend entirely on the system for transporting astronauts.

The Soyuz cannot take large non-human , such as big experiments or equipment that needs a fix on Earth.

The three other freight systems for the ISS, meanwhile, are all designed to be one-way systems, which means they are sent to Earth to burn up in the atmosphere after separating from the ISS.

This includes Europe's ATV, the second of which, the , undocked from the ISS on Monday ahead of a suicide plunge on Tuesday.

Dordain said ESA had no plans to give Europe its own manned flight capability.

Europe has a powerful launcher, the Ariane 5, but in face of the costs of manned space flight has always placed its astronauts on the shuttle or the Soyuz.

Dordain said ESA and NASA were in talks about possibly adapting the ATV for the US agency, which expects a gap of several years between the end of the shuttle and the introduction of a likely rocket-and-capsule system provided by the private sector.

"We are currently discussing with NASA about how we can converge the interests of NASA and the interests of ESA, which are not necessarily the same," he said.

By autumn, he said, ESA hoped to have a convergence of views on a "module," a common blueprint that could be used for NASA but also help to expand the use of the ATV.

"We are working but we are still far from a result," he said.

Explore further: The source of the sky's X-ray glow

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

2011 to be 'revolution' for Europe in space - ESA

Jan 14, 2011

Europe is set for a space "revolution" in 2011 when two new types of rocket join its launch pad in French Guiana, European Space Agency (ESA) boss Jean-Jacques Dordain said on Friday.

European freighter docks with space station

Feb 24, 2011

A robot freighter laden with seven tonnes of supplies docked flawlessly on Thursday with the International Space Station (ISS), its European controllers said here.

Europe honours Einstein with space freighter

May 26, 2011

The fourth of Europe's robot freighters, due to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2013, has been named after Albert Einstein, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday.

Unique three-way partnership for ATV ground control

Feb 26, 2008

Shortly after its planned 8 March launch to the ISS, ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle will make the first-ever laser-guided docking in space. The vehicle's fully automated docking provides unique challenges to the multi-agency ...

Recommended for you

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

13 hours ago

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

22 hours ago

Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station.

Giant crater in Russia's far north sparks mystery

Jul 26, 2014

A vast crater discovered in a remote region of Siberia known to locals as "the end of the world" is causing a sensation in Russia, with a group of scientists being sent to investigate.

NASA Mars spacecraft prepare for close comet flyby

Jul 26, 2014

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

Jul 25, 2014

For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and is left to dry, b ...

How do we terraform Venus?

Jul 25, 2014

It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough. The challenges for Venus are totally different than for Mars. How will we need to fix Venus?

User comments : 0