Airbus and the European Space Agency signed an agreement under which the aircraft company will invest 40 million euros in the development of the Bartolomeo research platform, and ESA will deliver the finished module to orbit and dock it with the ISS. The platform is intended for commercial use, therefore all its functionality will beavailable for a wide range of customers.
Bartolomeo is a module that will consist of 12 compartments intended for various instruments and research devices. Work on the module is scheduled to be completed in the next 18 months, after which it will be sent to the ISS along with private cargo. Now the developers have already approved the design and started creating the module. Airbus plans to make a low orbit more cheap, providing access to more people. Bartolomeo can be the first step to realizing this idea.
Management of the module specialists Airbus will take over. The service will also be carried out by the company’s forces with customer money. Delivery and installation will be fully provided by ESA, so customers will only need to prepare a useful cargo, which they want to put into orbit, and also pay for its storage and flight. The equipment installed in the module will allow real-time monitoring of cargo condition and, in addition, provide high-speed communication for data exchange between the ISS and the Earth.
If the partners do not get out of the schedule and their idea gets a worthy implementation, at the end of next year a new platform will appear on the ISS that will provide rapid testing of new technologies in space and high-quality research in various fields for a relatively small amount that is likely to be afforded even by small startups. It is assumed that the module will be delivered to the ISS by the cargo ship SpaceX Dragon.
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