Thales Alenia Space released this press release on Wednesday:
Paris Air Show, June 17, 2009 - Thales Alenia Space announced today the signing of a contract with Orbital Sciences Corporation for the design, development, production and delivery of nine pressurized modules for cargo transport - to include equipment, spare parts, scientific experiments and other items - to the International Space Station (ISS). The contract foresees the first unit delivery in December 2010 and the last unit delivery in the middle of 2015.
The pressurized modules (PCMs - Pressurized Cargo Modules) will be designed and developed for the Orbital's CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract with NASA, which will provide transport services employing Orbital's CygnusTM spacecraft, whose first flight is planned for the spring of 2011.
The Cygnus maneuvering spacecraft will be formed by Orbital's Service Module (SM), with which the PCM, built by Thales Alenia Space will be integrated. Building on its thirty-year involvement in space structures and transportation, the PCMs to be developed by Thales Alenia Space are founded on the experience and capability acquired for previous ISS related programs, such as the MPLM (Multi-Purpose Logistics Module) program, realized by the company on behalf of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for NASA and the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) Cargo Carrier, produced by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA).
The series of nine pressurized modules will start with one unit being built for the COTS demonstration mission, followed by two "standard" configuration units, able to transport
2,000 kg of cargo, and be completed with six "enhanced" configuration units, having a transport capacity of up to 2,700 kg.
"Our selection by Orbital Sciences for this new contract to produce PCMs dedicated to cargo transport to the International Space Station represents a significant step", stated Luigi Pasquali, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia. "It continues our well-earned reputation as the world leader in the field of space infrastructures and transportation. Thanks to our extensive experience in space research, we have accumulated a unique know-how that we would like, and must, continue to apply for the realization of future adventures beyond the Space Station to support the exploration of space".