Europe agrees to space station extension

March 17, 2011 at 9:24 PM
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PARIS, March 17 (UPI) -- Europe has formally endorsed the extension of operations at the International Space Station until 2020 and put the required financing in place, officials said.

Member states of the European Space Agency made the decision at a two-day meeting of the European Space Agency at ESA headquarters in Paris, the BBC reported Thursday.

Europe is an 8 percent partner in the ISS project with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

"This is the formal acceptance from the member states that the space station will last until 2020 and will be supported financially; and that is really excellent news," ESA space station manager Bernardo Patti said.

All five ISS participants said last year they wanted to see the platform continue flying beyond 2015, but Europe had until now struggled to obtain an agreement on funding from its member states.

The 10 ESA nations that subscribe to the station project approved a further $770 million sum to supplement the $1.9 billion funding package approved in 2008.

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