When the assembly of the International Space Station is complete, half of the pressurized volume where astronauts live and work will have been built by Thales Alenia Space, making the company the largest provider of living space... in space.
For more than three decades, Thales Alenia Space has been the reference in man-rated pressurized modules in Europe, thanks to the development of the Spacelab pressurized module for ESA, and of the Spacehab commercial module, both flown on multiple missions of the U.S. Space Shuttle.
For the ISS, Thales Alenia Space has developed the Node 2 and 3 modules that allow interconnecting between the laboratory modules, as well as ESA's Columbus scientific laboratory module and the Cupola observation facility.
In addition, Thales Alenia Space plays a significant role in the servicing of the ISS. First, it has designed and built the three Multipurpose Pressurised Logistics Modules (MPLM), flown onboard the Space Shuttle for logistics missions to deliver large hardware to the station. Thales Alenia Space is also responsible for the pressurized cargo module of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), due to fly regular supply and reboost missions to the station from 2007 on.
Room with a view
In space, astronauts have been used to live and work in closed environments. The only way to interact with the outside was to perform a spacewalk. The Cupola, developed by Thales Alenia Space, will change this. This dome-shaped structure, to be mounted on the International Space Station, features seven specially developed windows to provide a panoramic view into space. While in a shirtsleeve working environment, astronauts will be able to observe and manage extra-vehicular operations. The Cupola will also be an unprecedented viewpoint toward the Earth. Launch is due in 2009.
To space and back
A partner in the Hermes spaceplane project as well as in the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) capsule and X-38 crew rescue vehicle programs, Thales Alenia Space is involved in studies for future space transportation systems, from hypersonic test vehicles to reentry capsules.