Bird & Bird and the European Space Agency (ESA) have concluded a co-operation agreement, positioning Bird & Bird as a legal partner in developing the commercialisation of the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS, one of the most high tech projects ever initiated, is a multi-disciplinary laboratory in space operating in the fields of life and physical sciences, (especially biotechnology, pharma and medical instrumentation), telecommunications/satellites, data management, development of new materials, fluid physics, space/earth/weather observation and a range of other activities.

The ISS is an international co-operative programme between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan for the joint development, operation and utilisation of a permanently inhabited space station in low Earth orbit. Europe, working through the ESA, is also responsible for two key station elements: the Columbus Orbital Facility and the Automated Transfer Vehicle. Further, European scientists and engineers have also contributed to other technical elements to the ISS, like DSM-R data management system and the robotic arm. Europe has also provided astronauts of the ISS-program. European mission control centres will share station command with Russia and the United States and direct on-board experiments.

The utilisation of the ISS is open to private parties. The aim of the co-operation agreement is to jointly develop the commercial use of the ISS for such customers. Several industry partners have joined the co-operation agreement since 2002,for example Dutch Space, Bradford, EADS Space, BEOS Space Operators, Contraves Space, Kayser-Threde, OHB Systems, Alenia Spazio, Altec and commercial agent ISS-lab-Ruhr.

Under the co-operation agreement, Bird & Bird provides the industry partners with regular work shops on legal topics and through Bird & Bird's Aviation & Aerospace Group of the industry partners are able to use our legal expertise.

For any questions about this co-operation agreement, please contact Armand Killan or Harry Rek from our office in The Hague: + 31 (0)70 353 88 00.

For further information on Bird & Bird's Aviation & Aerospace Group, please click here.