Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station (ISS), the Columbus laboratory, has left European shores and is due to be delivered to the Kennedy Space Centre in the US at the end of the month.
Representatives from international space agencies, scientific institutions, industry and politics, were today joined by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bid farewell to the 1,000 kg space laboratory.
Engineers at EADS SPACE Transportation have spent approximately 10 years developing and building Columbus for the European Space Agency (ESA), on a programme worth €880 million. The multi-functional Columbus space laboratory is scheduled for launch in autumn 2007 on board a US Space Shuttle.
Ten payload racks of scientific experiments will enable scientists to conduct research in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, materials, fluid and life sciences as well as experiments within the framework of applied technology projects, all requiring a zero-gravity environment..
François Auque, CEO of EADS SPACE said, “Columbus is a major achievement. Thanks to the commitment of the European Space Agency, Europe will now play a major part in humanity’s adventures in space. The next step will be the delivery of the Automated Transfer Vehicle, essential for re-supplying the ISS and keeping it in its proper orbit.”
Evert Dudok, President of EADS SPACE Transportation said: “With the delivery of Columbus to Kennedy Space Centre we’re drawing nearer to the point where the scientists can harvest what we, the engineers, have so far prepared for them. We here in Bremen are already prepared for the operational phase of Columbus.”
The European Space Agency ESA awarded the contract to EADS SPACE Transportation to develop and integrate the complete Columbus laboratory system in 1996.