It’s a small module equipped with seven windows, which offers to astronauts a privileged view of Earth and the celestial bodies. The module was designed for observation operations outside the ISS, such as: robotic activities, astronauts’ spacewalks and cargo vehicles approach. Built in Europe under the guidance of Italy by Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I), contracted by the European Space Agency, the Cupola was launched in space on February 8th, 2010 with the Shuttle STS-130 mission, along with the Node-3, Tranquility. The installation was completed on February 17th 2010, when the Cupola became operational.
It’s 1.50 m high, with a maximum diameter of 2.95 meters. The Cupola has six side windows and an observation window targeted at the nadir point, 80 cm wide. This allows an all-round visibility in a single direction. The windows can be sealed with special shutters which protect them from micrometeorites and space debris. Inside the Cupola is the robotic workstation, which checks the ISS Canadarm robotic arm. It can simultaneously host up to two crewmembers and can be accessed through the Node-3, which is Italian too.