13 May 2014 – QinetiQ has been awarded a contract extension for servicing the hardware components in the Columbus module, a component of the International Space Station (ISS) that houses various science laboratories and is the European Space Agency’s (ESA) biggest contribution to the ISS. QinetiQ Space has been responsible for servicing all the hardware, developed by QinetiQ itself, since the launch of the Columbus module in 2008, and the service contract has now been extended until the end of 2014.
QinetiQ Space has developed a number of scientific instruments for fluid, biological and material research inside the Columbus Module and is subcontracted to Airbus, the European aviation, space transportation and defence consortium, to provide support when these instruments are used by astronauts or any anomalies occur.
Airbus is responsible for all European components in the Columbus module. If a hardware component in the space laboratory has to be fully replaced, Airbus ensures that the replacement component reaches the space station fully in accordance with procedures. If it involves a change to the software, QinetiQ first test the modifications on the ground model of the installation where the problem has occurred. Airbus then gives QinetiQ permission to send the software to the space station.
Dirk Claessens, Director of Operations for QinetiQ Space in Belgium, said;“This contract extension highlights the value of QinetiQ Space’s knowledge and in-house facilities to be able to guarantee the lifetime of all hardware components, and in addition that we have experienced, excellently trained people available to support any resolutions.”
The Columbus module will continue to orbit in space until at least 2020.