Bartolomeo: Simplifying Payload Delivery to Space Stations

Bartolomeo, an external payload hosting facility on the International Space Station (ISS), is revolutionizing access to space. Developed by Airbus, Bartolomeo aims to make the benefits of space-based activities more accessible and affordable to a wider community. The ISS, known as one of the most reliable assets in space, offers ample payload space that was not fully utilized. Airbus saw an opportunity to establish additional infrastructure and a commercial service that would provide more flexibility, faster time-to-orbit, greater affordability, and simpler processes.

The Bartolomeo platform, named after Christopher Columbus’ younger brother, was built by Airbus in Bremen and installed on the outside of the ISS’ European Columbus Module. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer completed its installation in March 2022. The platform is now open for business and ready to host payloads. Airbus has also added the ArgUS Multi-Payload Carrier to the portfolio, which can accommodate up to 10 smaller payloads within one standard payload slot.

Bartolomeo is attracting a diverse customer base, including space agencies, commercial customers, and research organizations. It offers a comparatively easy and affordable way to fly a low Earth orbit (LEO) mission. The first payloads are scheduled to be launched and installed on the Bartolomeo platform in 2023. The first ArgUS Mission, carrying payloads from Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the USA, is planned for late 2023.


For more complex space missions, customers can rely on Airbus’ expertise in design and engineering services to ensure mission success. Airbus is currently discussing additional payloads, including technology demonstrations, in-orbit verification missions, in-space manufacturing, and 3D printing approaches. The Bartolomeo service provides an exciting opportunity for Airbus to apply its decades of experience and help customers make their missions a reality.

Looking ahead, Bartolomeo will continue to operate alongside the ISS for several years. Airbus is already working with potential partners for the future, as there are organizations and private companies developing the next generation of low Earth orbit stations with a more service-based approach. Airbus is actively engaged in these initiatives and believes that a Bartolomeo-like service will continue to exist and grow.

In conclusion, Bartolomeo is revolutionizing access to space by utilizing the existing infrastructure of the ISS. It offers a commercial service that provides easier and more affordable access to space for a wide range of customers. With its external payload hosting facility and the ArgUS Multi-Payload Carrier, Bartolomeo is set to make a significant impact in the space industry.