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Columbus Installed In New Home On ISS

The two billion dollar lab, which represents Europe's heightened role in the ISS effort, was brought up to the station on the Atlantis shuttle and attached Monday by US astronauts Rex Walheim and Stanley Love in a spacewalk of more than six hours.
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Feb 13, 2008
The European Columbus laboratory has completed its voyage to the International Space Station. Columbus was officially attached to the right side of the Harmony module at 22:44 CET this evening. ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who was at the controls of the Station's robotic arm for the final capture and initial berthing of Columbus, reported to Mission Control, "The European Columbus module is now part of the ISS."

Columbus was installed during the first spacewalk of the STS-122 mission. From outside the ISS, astronauts Rex Walheim and Stanley Love prepared the module for installation before the Station's robotic arm was used to lift Columbus into position.

"Another great day for the European Space Agency. A great day for our European industry and a great day for Europe in general." said Alan Thirkettle, ESA's ISS Programme Manager.

"Now we have four of the international partners with their elements on the Station. It is really becoming the international Space Station. We are very much looking forward to having the fifth partner join us next month." he added.

The hatch between the ISS and the Columbus laboratory will be opened for the first time tomorrow, Tuesday 12 February. Partial ingress will occur at 14:50 CET. Wearing protective glasses and a facemask, Leopold Eyharts will enter Columbus for the very first time to start initial activation of the module. Full ingress is scheduled for 20:55 CET.

Walheim and ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel also will continue to prepare the Columbus laboratory when they perform STS-122's second spacewalk on Wednesday.

earlier related report
European lab opens at ISS, Schlegel OK for spacewalk
AFP Reports: Astronauts at the International Space Station Tuesday opened up the new Columbus research laboratory as NASA said that German Hans Schlegel, bumped from the current mission's first space walk due to illness, would take part in the second walk.

The two billion dollar lab, which represents Europe's heightened role in the ISS effort, was brought up to the station on the Atlantis shuttle and attached Monday by US astronauts Rex Walheim and Stanley Love in a spacewalk of more than six hours.

Wearing protective glasses and a surgical mask, French astronaut Leopold Eyharts was the first to open the hatch to the lab at 1408 GMT, floating inside with an electric lamp to give the unit an initial checkout.

Eyharts then signalled to mission officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Houston operations center that everything seemed fine in the lab.

He was followed by Peggy Whitson, the US astronaut who currently commands the ISS.

The astronauts spent much of the morning before opening the lab setting up its crucial electrical, climate and data systems hookups.

Three of five experiment racks have to be moved into place in the unit Tuesday as well.

The astronauts then have to work on readying the Columbus module for research, a job that will take several days.

With room for three astronauts and 10 experimentation racks, it will be used for biotechnology and medical research involving microgravity.

An official ceremony to inaugurate Columbus was scheduled for later Tuesday.

Eyharts, who came up to the ISS on the Atlantis which launched last Thursday, will stay behind at the space station for six weeks to undertake some of the experiments planned.

The day brought good news for Schlegel, as NASA confirmed the veteran astronaut was healthy enough to take on the next space walk on Wednesday, together with Walheim, after a still-unidentified illness prevented him from taking part in the first one.

The planned six and a half hour walk is aimed at replacing an old nitrogen tank assembly with a new one.

The long-delayed transport and installation of the Columbus module move gives European space agencies a presence alongside US and Russian astronauts on the ISS, a preparation point for future human missions to Mars.

"This marks another great day for the European Space Agency, a great day for European industry and a great day for Europe in general," Alan Thirkettle, the ESA's official in charge of the space station, said Monday.

The unit was originally to be shipped up to the ISS in December, but technical problems with the spacecraft forced delays.

In the coming months Japan is expected to send up its own orbiting lab, dubbed Kibo, also to be attached to the ISS.

Meanwhile NASA has declared Atlantis and its insulation skin in perfect shape for returning to Earth at the end of the mission, in the wake of worries over small damage sustained by the shuttle during the launch last week.

Source: Agence France-Presse
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Two Canadians to blast off into space in 2009
Ottawa (AFP) Feb 11, 2008
Two Canadian astronauts will participate in space missions next year, the government said Monday.

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