Columbus is a multi-purpose laboratory for multi-disciplinary research into weightlessness. It is 6.9 metres long with a diameter of 4.5 metres. It is equipped for material and life sciences research, fluid research and the development of new technologies. Its designers also hope that it will one day be used for industrial and commercial purposes.
In 1985, the Rome ESA Ministerial Council approved European participation in the International Space Station ISS. At the next Ministerial Council in The Hague in 1987, the ministers confirmed the Columbus programme and agreed on a three-year preparation phase.
Columbus is a research laboratory that offers 25 cubic metres of space to as many as three astronauts working on scientific experiments. Its outer wall incorporates several layers of aluminium, Kevlar and Nextel to protect the laboratory from space debris and cosmic radiation as well as a thick layer of heat insulation.
Germany is one of the most important nations conducting scientific research on board the ISS, particularly in the field of research under space conditions (life and physical sciences) in which around 40 percent of the projects selected in a Europe-wide contest originated with German research institutes.
First experiments with German participation in the Columbus laboratory.