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astronautix.com Columbus Man-Tended Free Flyer - MTFF

ESA Columbus MTFF
ESA Columbus MTFF
ESA Columbus Man-Tended Free Flyer - MTFF. The Hermés mini-shuttle docks with the man-tended free-flyer to retrieve microgravity experiments to Earth in this 1989 illustration.

Credit: ESA via Marcus Lindroos. 35,102 bytes. 641 x 351 pixels.


Nation: Europe. Agency: ESA.

In April 1986, Italy's Aeritalia finally proposed that the European Space Agency build a second free-flying pressurised module to be used with the Space Station. The Italian initiative was intended to break the NASA-ESA deadlock. The Man-Tended Free Flying platform (MTFF) would have been used for sensitive microgravity research while satisfying European needs for an autonomous manned space platform. In 1986, the estimated costs of the MTFF were $160-180 million in addition to the existing $1.6-1.8 billion Columbus space segment. The Americans grudgingly approved the MTFF although it would require additional communications, docking facilities, data processing and other Station resources. The Hermés mini-shuttle would dock with the man-tended free-flyer to retrieve microgravity experiments.


ESA Columbus MTFFESA Columbus MTFF - ESA Columbus Man-Tended Free Flyer - MTFF

Credit: ESA via Marcus Lindroos. 108,351 bytes. 636 x 474 pixels.


The MTFF, Columbus Attached Pressurised Module, Ariane-5 rocket and (somewhat surprisingly-) Hermés were all approved in November 1987. The entire Columbus package (Attached Pressurised Module, Man Tended Free-Flying platform, plus an unmanned polar remote sensing platform) was expected to cost $3.56 billion including launch and utilisation. The Columbus budget was trimmed slightly by cancelling the smaller $145-million Eureca B platform. Hermés and Columbus would receive final approval in 1991 after the 3-year Phase 1 definition phase. By this time, the cost of German unification had forced Germany to demand a 15-20% reduction in ESA 1990-2000 spending and it was becoming increasingly clear either the German-led MTFF, Italian-led Columbus APM or French Hermés projects would have to be cancelled. In 1991 the MTFF was postponed from 1999 to sometime after the turn of the century as ESA devoted all its resources to the Columbus Attached Pressurised Module.


ESA MTFF 1985ESA MTFF 1985 - ESA Columbus Man-Tended Free Flyer - MTFF. The Man-Tended Free Flying platform (MTFF) depicted here would have been used for sensitive microgravity research while satisfying European needs for an autonomous manned space platform.

Credit: ESA via Marcus Lindroos. 35,490 bytes. 610 x 400 pixels.


Article by Marcus Lindroos
Specification



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