Future Plans for Spacelab and Retrievable Carrier

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The experience gained "by Europe in Spacelab development is used to follow an approach responsive to Europe's own needs and compatible with its financial resources. From studies currently being carried out so far by the European Space Agency, a conclusion has been drawn that the development of a freeflying carrier should be pursued. The basic objective of the discussed "European Retrievable Carrier" is to arrive at a payload carrier (primarily dedicated to microgravity research) which can be separated from the Shuttle in orbit, operate in a free-flying mode, be retrieved together with its payloads and be re-used.The further evolution path may then lead to an unmanned space platform for which cooperation would be established with NASA and/ or to a small European platform either mantended and depending on the Shuttle service, or completely automated.