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Thales Alenia Space's Node 2 to be lofted towards the International Space Station

18 October 2007

Cannes, October 18, 2007 - In a few days time, at 17:38 on Tuesday 23 October, the Esperia* STS-120/10A Mission, will take off from the NASA's Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida. Onboard the Space Discovery Shuttle, Node 2 - the interconnecting unit developed in Italy by Thales Alenia Space - and the ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli will start their journey towards the International Space Station (ISS).

Node 2, named Harmony, is a crucial element for the development and completion of the orbital structure. It will not only enable the expansion of the station's habitable quarters but also provide a passageway between three science laboratories: the USA's Destiny, ESA's Columbus and the Japanese Kibo modules. In addition, it will be used as a connecting port for the Japanese H II transfer vehicle, the ASI's Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM) and other Shuttle missions. It will also enable the Station robotic arm, Canadarm2, to operate from a powered grapple fixture on the exterior of Node 2.

In his role as a mission specialist, Paolo Nespoli from Italy will coordinate the installation of Node 2, three out of five spacewalks and carry out a programme of ESA/ASI scientific experiments during the 15-day mission.

The current ISS' structure is built around 3 Nodes. While Node 1 was manufactured in the United States, the design and manufacture of Nodes 2 and 3 (more advanced and complex) have been awarded to ESA (European Space Agency). For the Node 2, ESA has requested ASI (Italian Space Agency) to coordinate the industrial team. Thales Alenia Space, as prime contractor, is responsible for the design, development, testing and integration of Nodes 2 and 3, and also provides the necessary support to NASA for the final verifications, launch preparation and various phases of the mission.

Weighing 31,500 pounds (14 tonnes) when loaded for flight, the 7-metre-long, 4.6-metre-wide pressurised cylindrical Node 2 component will increase the living and working space inside the station to approximately 500 cubic meters.

In what is one of the most technologically advanced environments, Thales Alenia Space plays a fundamental role, developing more than 50% of the pressurised, habitable volume of the whole Station.

* Esperia was the name that the ancient Greek navigators gave to the Southern coast of Italy.

About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups' "Space Alliance". Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company has a total of 7,200 employees and 11 industrial sites, with locations in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

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