Feb 12, 2008

Columbus Lab docked with ISS

Europe's much awaited space laboratory, Columbus, has been unloaded from the US space shuttle Atlantis and docked successfully with the International Space Station (ISS). On Monday, during a risky spacewalk of nearly eight hours, astronauts installed the Columbus lab. This is a great relief for European Space Agency (ESA).

The spacewalk was earlier scheduled to take place on Sunday, but was delayed when astronaut Hans Schlegel fell ill. Schlegel is expected to take part in the second spacewalk of the mission on Wednesday.

The 12.8-tonne Columbus lab cost about $2bn (£1bn) and has room for three researchers in fields ranging from crop breeding to the development of advanced alloys. The 7m-long (24ft), 4.5m-wide, 12.8-tonne laboratory will be manoeuvred into position by the shuttle's robotic arm, and docked to the station's Harmony Node 2 connector.

ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts will be staying on the International Space Station to commission Columbus, a process that should take a few weeks to complete. Once the lab is installed properly, it will help researchers in doing some very important experiments. Link


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