The European Space Agency (ESA) has transferred all activities involved in the operation and exploitation of the European share of the International Space Station (ISS) to Astrium as prime industrial contractor. The two parties have concluded a service agreement to this effect for a fixed price of €278 M, covering the period from 2008 up to and including 2010.

The agreement combines all activities involved in operating the European contributions to the Space Station, from mission control, engineering tasks and the provision of supplies, to communications with the ground station. In its capacity as prime contractor, Astrium will ensure that the European sections of the Space Station function smoothly and that high-quality research can be performed.

The services included in the scope of the contract are divided into work packages. They comprise astronaut training, mission control and preparation, engineering for technical integration, particularly in the case of extensions for new experiments and research facilities, the ground segment including communications, and logistics and maintenance.

The service agreement is based on the service provided by Astrium since 2004 to exploit the European part of the International Space Station, with plans to prolong the service agreement for the entire service life of the ISS. Astrium leads a European consortium of some 40 partnering enterprises from ten European countries involved in the International Space Station.