The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest joint scientific and technological project in space. In February 2008 the European laboratory Columbus was docked to the ISS. By the year 2010, the ISS will be finally complete, using further Space Shuttle flights.
Planned for completion during this period are the Japanese experimental module JEM and two connection 'Nodes'. Columbus will arrive on a Space Shuttle in December 2007 and will be attached to Node 2. The German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel will accompany Columbus as a mission specialist and will be considerably responsible for the installation and inaugeration of the laboratory.
After the attachment of Node 3, which offers additional sleep and living accommodation, the permanent crew might be strengthened to six astronauts about 2009.
From 2008, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), a supply vehicle for the ISS will commence operation. With a length of ten metres and a diameter of 4.5 metres, payloads up to 7.5 tonnes can be transported.
By at the latest 2014, the new American Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) will replace the Space Shuttle (deactivated in 2010) and the main transport for astronauts to and from the ISS.