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Successful launch of Thales Alenia Space's Node 2 onboard the Discovery Shuttle

23 October 2007

Cannes, October 23, 2007 - The Node 2 Harmony, the interconnecting element developed in Italy by Thales Alenia Space, has been successfully launched today from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida (USA) towards the International Space Station.

The Discovery Shuttle STS-120 Esperia mission has entered into orbit, continuing its way towards the orbital structure where it will dock after a journey of around two days. The crew, under the coordination of Paolo Nespoli, will connect the Node 2 to the Station in a spectacular manoeuvre, enlarging the habitable space.

More advanced and complex than Node 1, which was built in the United States, Node 2 and its twin Node 3 have been designed, developed and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space. The company was also responsible for providing the necessary support to NASA for the final checks and launch preparations. The support activity will continue during all phases of the mission, through the ALTEC control Centre (of which Thales Alenia space and ASI are a part).

Carlo Alberto Penazzi, CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia said: "The Esperia mission represents the achievement of more than thirty years' commitment to orbital infrastructures, which has seen our company assume a key role, manufacturing more than 50% of the pressurised modules, the habitable part, of the International Space Station."

He added: "I can say with pride that Node 2 is an important step towards the completion of the orbital structure and is recognition of the high level technology and hard work undertaken during these years by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, where the Node was developed".

The Nodes manufactured by Thales Alenia Space incorporate the permanent lodging for four astronauts, water purifying and oxygen generation. Structurally, Nodes 2 and 3 are similar, with a diameter of 4,6 metres, length of 7 metres, and each weighing 14 tonnes at launch. In particular, Node 2 will be used as a passageway between the European science laboratory Columbus, the American Destiny, and the Japanese Kibo. It will also be used as a docking port for the Japanese HII Transfer Vehicle, ASI's MPLM modules, and for other Shuttle missions. It will also enable the Station robotic arm, Canadarm2, to operate from a powered grapple fixture attached outside the Node 2.

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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