Europe and the US could be building a spaceship together later this decade.
It is one of the ideas being considered as Europe ponders the next evolution of its ATV orbital freighter.
The sophisticated robotic vessel is used to transport up to 7.5 tonnes of supplies to the space station, but only three more units are in production.
Europe is now looking to develop a derivative of the ship and a joint venture with the Americans on a future vessel is being discussed.
The European Space Agency's Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, said the new concept must leverage the capabilities of the existing vehicle, such as its automatic rendezvous and docking technology, but that its precise role was up for debate.
He wants the broad concept laid out by the autumn so that he can present it to Esa member states for consideration.
"We shall work with the US space agency in a way that I can present in October a proposal on a new vehicle that in my view should be derived from the ATV, but which for the first time will be embedded into a common vision between Nasa and Esa," he told BBC News.
"I cannot tell you what type of vehicle it will be because this is not something I can define myself; this is something we have to define together - Nasa and Esa.
"What I have in mind is a part that will be built by Europe and a part by the United States; and which together can make a transportation vehicle."
[Read the rest of this article at news.bbc.co.uk]
The Automated Transfer Vehicle is the means by which Europe pays its way on the ISS