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Thales Alenia Space, a key contributor to the European laboratory Columbus and the ISS

04 December 2007

Cannes, December 4, 2007 - ESA's Columbus laboratory, developed with Thales Alenia Space as main contributor will be launched on December 6, from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida (USA) on-board the Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS).

The multi-purpose pressurized module Columbus, with its planned operational lifetime of ten years, is Europe's first laboratory for long-term research in microgravity environment. Columbus will be permanently docked to the Node 2 (Harmony), developed by Thales Alenia Space as prime-contractor and launched on October 23, 2007.

Commissioned by ESA, Columbus is built by a consortium of European companies led by Astrium Space Transportation, in which Thales Alenia Space is playing a key role, participating in the design and production of Columbus' primary and secondary structure development, as well as for the development and pre-integration of the entire thermo-mechanical part. Furthermore, Thales Alenia Space is providing numerous key subsystems.

Thales Alenia Space is also prime contractor for two out of five internal payloads, the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) program for conducting fluid physics experiments and the European Drawer Rack (EDR) as well as for the SOLAR external payload.

Columbus is a cylindrical module, made from "space" aluminium, which is 6.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, and weighs a total of 12,4 tonnes, including 2500 kg of payload. Columbus has an internal volume of 75 cubic meters.

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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