At today's meeting, the Heads of Agency were also briefed on the status of ongoing International Space Station operations and flight hardware development activities across the partnership. The partners reaffirmed their agencies' commitment to meet their mutual obligations, to implement six person crew operations in 2009 and an adequate number of shuttle flights to complete the assembly of the space station by the end of the decade.
The partners also affirmed their plans to use a combination of transportation systems provided by Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States to complete space station assembly in a timeframe that meets the needs of the partners and to ensure full use of the unique capabilities of the space station throughout its lifetime.
The International Space Station Heads of Agency expressed their appreciation for the outstanding work being conducted by the space station on-orbit crews and ground support personnel. They commended them for their creativity in making full use of available resources to operate the space station, prepare for assembly missions and carrying out scientific research aboard the station.
The uninterrupted flow of Russian vehicles, the outstanding performance of Canadarm2, the successful shuttle logistics flight, and the resourcefulness of all of the partners' ground-based engineers, researchers and operations personnel have served to highlight the strength of the International Space Station partnership and the importance of international cooperation in space operations.
The partners look forward to the upcoming space shuttle flight of the STS-121 mission, a return to International Space Station assembly activity and a permanent crew of three.
They also noted the upcoming launch of key space station elements such as: three additional power trusses to support overall International Space Station needs and the needs of the partners; the European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle; the U.S. Node 2; the European Space Agency Columbus Module; the Canadian two-armed Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator Dextre; the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo; the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module and the Japanese H-2 Transfer Vehicle.
These elements of the space station program will bring to fruition the partnership's goal of operation and use of a permanently inhabited civil International Space Station.