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Europe's Columbus laboratory leaves Earth
Date:2/7/2008

This release is available in French and German.

Columbus was onboard NASAs Space Shuttle Atlantis when it lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 20:45 CET today. For this one-way trip to Earth orbit, Columbus is in the expert hands of a crew of seven astronauts, including two members of the European astronaut corps: Lopold Eyharts of France and Hans Schlegel of Germany.

Whereas Hans Schlegel will return to Earth after the 12-day Shuttle mission is over, Lopold Eyharts will stay on the ISS for over two more months to supervise the in-orbit commissioning of ESAs Columbus laboratory and its experimental facilities and to perform a programme of experiments.

On Saturday 9 February at 18:23 CET Space Shuttle Atlantis will dock with the ISS. On the following day, the space stations Canadarm2 robotic arm will remove the Columbus module from the shuttles cargo bay and dock it to the starboard hatch of the Harmony (Node 2) module. Two spacewalking astronauts, including Hans Schlegel, will assist the manoeuvre.

Once the module is docked safely, its commissioning will begin under the responsibility of Lopold Eyharts, who will become part of the ISS resident crew. Science experiments onboard Columbus will start within a few hours.

Two more spacewalks are planned while Atlantis is docked to the ISS, including a second one with Hans Schlegel and a NASA astronaut to install external science payloads and handrails on the Columbus module.

An advanced laboratory for in-orbit science

As a state-of-the-art research facility, the Columbus laboratory is the cornerstone of Europes contribution to the ISS. Once attached to the orbital outpost, this 7-m long, 12.8-tonne module will provide a shirtsleeve enviro
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Contact: media.relations@esa.int
33-153-697-299
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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