The European Columbus laboratory has completed its voyage to the International Space Station. Columbus was officially attached to the right side of the Harmony module at 22:44 CET this evening, having been installed during the first spacewalk of the STS-122 mission.
ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who was at the controls of the Station's robotic arm for the final capture and initial berthing of the laboratory reported to Mission Control: "The European Columbus module is now part of the ISS."
Robotic arm helps put Columbus in its place
Columbus was installed during the first spacewalk of the STS-122 mission. From outside the ISS, astronauts Rex Walheim and Stanley Love prepared the module for installation before the Station's robotic arm was used to lift it into position.
The hatch between the ISS and the Columbus laboratory will be opened for the first time tomorrow, Tuesday 12 February. Partial ingress will occur at 14:50 CET. Wearing protective glasses and a facemask, Léopold Eyharts will enter Columbus for the very first time to start initial activation of the module. Full ingress is scheduled for 20:55 CET. Walheim and ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel from Germany also will continue to prepare the Columbus laboratory when they perform STS-122’s second spacewalk on Wednesday.
Now in orbit, Columbus is only the most obvious and impressive part of the research programme.
Columbus on the ground will involve researchers all over Europe, who will be able to control their own experiments directly from several User Centres or even directly from their workplaces. Their efforts will be channelled through the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich.
Like the Genoese navigator for whom it was named, Columbus is set for a long journey of exploration. But thanks to broadband telecommunications, hundreds - perhaps thousands - of explorers will be able to work aboard during its 10-year mission.
Columbus: Highlights of mission STS-122
||EVA 1, Love/Walheim|
||Hatch open, Columbus|
||EVA 2, Schlegel/Walheim|
||LiveCall with ISS/Hans Schlegel|
||EVA 3, Walheim/Love|
||Hatch closed, Shuttle/ISS|
Please note: These dates are provisional.