Encyclopedia Astronautica
ESA Polar Platform

ESA Polar Platform
ESA Polar Platform, 1984. British Aerospace Ltd. Polar Platform concept from 1984.
Credit: ESA via Marcus Lindroos
European manned space station. Study 1986. Britain initially expressed strong interest in developing an unmanned Polar Platform for Earth observation as part of the European Columbus package. In 1986 the platform was scheduled for a 1995 launch.

By 1987 the launch date had slipped by two years as the British were expressing doubts about the Space Station project. Britain finally pulled out in February 1988 and the design was scaled back to a smaller satellite based on the French SPOT-4 spacecraft bus. The design was retained when the British decided to rejoin a year later, but British Aerospace was appointed main contractor of the project. The $972-million POEM-1 project was moved out of the Columbus space station package in November 1991 and was subsequently descoped into Envisat-1.

Article by Marcus Lindroos

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Associated Countries
See also
  • US Space Stations Wernher von Braun brought Noordung's rotating station design with him from Europe. This he popularized in the early 1950's in selling manned space flight to the American public. By the late 1950's von Braun's team favoured the spent-stage concept - which eventually flew as Skylab. By the mid-1960's, NASA was concentrating on modular, purpose-built, zero-G stations. These eventually flew as the International Space Station. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Ariane 5G French orbital launch vehicle. Initial version of the Ariane 5, a bit too large for the main commercial geosynchronous communications satellite payloads. More...
  • Ariane 5 French orbital launch vehicle. The Ariane 5 was a completely new design, unrelated to the earlier Ariane 1 to 4. It consisted of a single-engine Lox/LH2 core stage flanked by two solid rocket boosters. Preparatory work began in 1984. Full scale development began in 1988 and cost $ 8 billion. The design was sized for the Hermes manned spaceplane, later cancelled. This resulted in the booster being a bit too large for the main commercial payload, geosynchronous communications satellites. As a result, development of an uprated version capable of launching two such satellites at a time was funded in 2000. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • ESA European agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. European Space Agency, Europe. More...

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