Status Report

Letters from ESA to the House Science Committee Chair and to the U.S. State Department expressing concern over the ISS Task Force Report

By SpaceRef Editor
November 7, 2001
Filed under , ,

The Honorable Sherwood L. Boehlert

Chairman, House Committee on Science

2320 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington DC 20515

Subject: The International Space Station

7 November 2001

Dear Chairman Boehlert:

Further to my letter (241/5/591) of November 6th, I am again writing you requesting your consideration of a second submittal for the record (with respect to the House Committee on Science’s hearing on “The Space Station Task Force Report”, scheduled to take place on Wednesday November 7th.)

Dr. Herbert Diehl, Chairman of the European Partner’s IGA Coordinating Committee (IGA-CC) and Spokesperson for the ISS European Partner sent the attached letter to Mr. Ralph Braibanti at the Department of State, on November 2nd.

The IGA-CC was originally established to co-ordinate the European Partner’s (Those European States taking part in the European Portion of the ISS Programme) position during the Intergovernmental Agreement negotiations. With the IGA in place the IGA-CC has been maintained as the European coordinating entity for political level matters relating to the ISS.

You consideration of this matter, at such short notice, is appreciated.

As per our previous letter, please feel free to have Committee staff contact me should you require further information with respect to this matter


Yours faithfully,

Ian Pryke

Head of the ESA Washington Office

Cc: The Honorable Ralph M. Hall, Ranking Minority Member, House Science Committee

Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung

Nov. 02, 2001

Mr. Ralph Braibanti


Space and Advanced Technology Staff

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

U.S> Department of State

SA-1 Suite H-228

2401 E Street NW

Washington DC 20520


Dear Mr. Braibanti:

The International Space Station (ISS) Partners last formally reviewed the status of the programme, at the Space Station Cooperation Review meeting held in Berlin on 12 December 2000. At that time they were pleased to note that the partnership had launched and successfully completed numerous missions contributing to the deployment of the ISS. However, the current budgetary situation with respect to the US Partner, which includes the establishment of an independent Task Force chaired by Mr. Thomas Young, for reviewing the NASA ISS programme, is causing considerable concern in Europe.

As you are aware, the European Partner States are making preparations for subscribing on the occasion of the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level scheduled to take place on 14 and 15 November 2001, very significant funds for the period of the ESA ISS operation and utilisation extending from 2002 to 2006. This subscription is predicated upon the European Partner’s rights and obligations stemming from the ISS Agreements, i.e. the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and the related ESA/NASA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on 29 January 1998. The IGA, which entered into force on 27 March 2001, provides the legal basis under international law for implementing ISS cooperation; in the case of the European Partner States, the IGA is executed through the Arrangement signed by the States on 29 January 1998.

The ISS Agreements are unambiguous on the scope of each Partner’s obligations. These extend through the delivery of all flight and ground elements listed in the IGA Annex and detailed in Article 3 of the MOUs, and subsequent operation of these elements. These Agreements state each party’s obligations in the most committing type of language that can be used in international agreements. Furthermore, there is no provision in the ISS Agreements that would allow the possibility of any Partner deciding unilaterally to cancel the provision of one or several of its listed items.

One of the major concerns of the European Partner is whether or not the US Partner, in view of its recent ISS budget related problems, has already entered into an exercise falling within the scope of Article 23.3 of the IGA pursuant to which: ” any Partner which intends to proceed with significant flight element design changes which may have an impact on the other Partners shall notify the other Partners accordingly at the earliest opportunity”. These provisions were added to the IGA in 1998 to allow the Partners to assess whether the intended changes are compatible with the ISS Agreements or if these changes entail modification of a Partner’s rights and obligations.

You will understand that, at a time when the European Partner is preparing to make significant financial commitments towards ISS operation and utilisation on the basis of the partnership’s existing international obligations, and because of some widely publicised budget and management related developments pertaining to the NASA part of the ISS programme, it is a requisite to give the European Partner States assurances that the ISS remains the one defined in the ISS Agreements.

In this connection, an essential requirement for the European Partner is the possibility to proceed with full utilisation of the Columbus Laboratory after completion of its successful verification on-orbit, in a time frame compatible with current European planning. This supposes the availability of all corresponding resources, including an amount of crew time compatible with a baseline of a seven-astronaut crew, Assurances are also need on full implementation of existing ISS barter arrangements between NASA and ESA. I would therefore appreciate receiving before our ESA Council meeting at ministerial level, a clear indication that it is the position of the Government of the United States to abide by the terms of the ISS Agreements and pursue the deployment and operation of the US Partner’s ISS elements as defined therein.

I would like to take this occasion to convey to you the message of sincere sympathy and support to the US people and authorities expressed by the representatives of the European Partner States at the meeting of the IGA Coordinating Committee on 13 September 2001, and also since that meeting, in the wake of the tragic events of 11 September in New York and Washington.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Hebert Diehl

Chairman of the European Partner’s IGA Coordinating Committee and Spokesman for the ISS European Partner

C.c. Representatives of the European Partner States

SpaceRef staff editor.