PARIS – The European Space Agency announced on Wednesday that it will launch a new mission to the International Space Station in 2019 geared toward researchers, engineers, emerging companies and space entrepreneurs.
“Earth observation and telecommunications, exobiology and space weather research are areas of great demand that will benefit” from the mission, the ESA said in a statement.
The commercial project, dubbed “Bartolomeo,” will “attract new European users to the (ISS), including a community of start-ups and space entrepreneurs. As companies piggyback off existing Station resources to reduce cost, new commercial opportunities will arise,” said the ESA.
Bartolomeo will provide an unobstructed view of Earth, direct terrestrial control of experiments and the possibility of recovering samples, the agency added.
The project will be constructed on the outside face of the ESA Columbus laboratory observation platform, launched 10 years ago and attached to the ISS orbiting some 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the Earth.
According to the ESA, the new project will provide “quick access to space, high-speed data feed and a unique vantage point,” all of which will be of great advantage to researchers.
The data feed, or download, capability of Bartolomeo will be 10 gigawatts per second, or enough capacity to download a high definition film in 30 seconds.
There will be 11 spaces on the new platform, the ESA said, and waiting time between signing a contract booking research space there and launching the experiment for installation on the ISS will be between one and two years, much less than the normal time to get experiments into space and run them.
The rental agreement for space on the Bartolomeo platform will be for at least one year and the project is scheduled for launch in 2019 on board a SpaceX Dragon rocket.