Artist's Impressions - VariousCupola

Artist view of the International Space Station

Credits: ESA - D. Ducros

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Artist view of the International Space Station (ISS). Showing ESA's Cupola mounted on the Node 3 module. This dome-shaped structure fitted with seven specially developed windows, will provide astronauts with a panoramic view for observing and guiding operations outside the ISS, as well as an unprecedented viewpoint toward the Earth. With a diameter of about 2 metres and height of 1.5 metres, the European-built Cupola provides a shirtsleeve working environment for two crewmembers. The ergonomically designed interior is equipped with workstations from which astronauts will be able to control the Station's robotic arm. The Cupola project was started in America by NASA and Boeing, but was cancelled as a result of cost cuts. After a barter agreement between NASA and ESA, development of the Cupola was taken over by Europe in 1998. Alenia Spazio designed, developed and integrated the Cupola in Turin, leading an industrial team made up six major European aerospace companies: CASA (Spain), APCO (Switzerland), SAAB Ericsson (Sweden), Lindholmen Development (Sweden), EADS Space Transportation (Germany) and Verhaert (Belgium). The 1.8 tonne Cupola was transferred to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in September 2004 to undergo final acceptance tests. Its launch is due in 2009. The Cupola is part of ESA's contribution to the infrastructure of the International Space Station, a program conducted in partnership with the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and Brazil. Other elements provided by ESA include the Columbus laboratory, the Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs), two connecting nodes, the European Robotic Arm (ERA), the Data Management System for the critical Russian Service Module, cryogenic freezers, a scientific glovebox and the Hexapod Earth-observing pointing system. Also visible on the picture are several other ISS elements (from right to left): ESA's Columbus laboratory, NASA's Destiny laboratory, the U.S. Quest airlock module (docked on the Unity Node 1 module) and the two future Russian research modules, partly hidden by the truss carrying the station's solar arrays and radiators.

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