The European space laboratory Columbus

Exterior view of the European Columbus laboratory

Exterior view of the European Columbus laboratory

Columbus is a research laboratory that offers 25 cubic metres of space to as many as three astronauts working on scientific experiments.


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Image 1/20, Credit EADS
The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory

The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL)

The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) – length: 62 metres, width: 31 metres, depth: 12 meter, capacity: 22.7 million litres.


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Image 2/20, Credit NASA
Artist's impression of the Columbus laboratory

Artist's impression of the Columbus laboratory

The Columbus laboratory is ESA's biggest contribution to the International Space Station (ISS). Delivered to ESA by EADS SPACE Transportation on 2 May 2006, this laboratory will provide internal payload accommodation for various scientific experiments. The Columbus laboratory is due to be flown on Space Shuttle Atlantis to the ISS in December 2007.


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Image 3/20, Credit ESA
STS-122 astronauts (kneeling) and support team with the European Columbus laboratory

STS-122 astronauts (kneeling) and support team with the European Columbus laboratory

STS-122 astronauts (kneeling) and support team with the European Columbus laboratory inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Columbus is under preparation in the SSPF for launch into orbit with Space Shuttle Atlantis on flight STS-122.


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Image 4/20, Credit ESA
ESA astronauts Léopold Eyharts (left) and Hans Schlegel (right) in front of the Columbus laboratory

ESA astronauts Léopold Eyharts (left) and Hans Schlegel (right) in front of the Columbus laboratory

ESA astronauts Léopold Eyharts (left) and Hans Schlegel (right) in front of the Columbus laboratory in the NASA integration hall known as the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at the Kennedy Space Center. Columbus is being prepared for the launch of mission STS-122.


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Image 5/20, Credit ESA
United Space Alliance (USA) suit technicians assisted the crew

United Space Alliance (USA) suit technicians assisted the crew

The STS-122 crewmembers don training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits in preparation for a training session in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the Johnson Space Center. From the left are astronauts Stephen N. Frick, commander; Alan G. Poindexter, pilot; Leland D. Melvin, Rex J. Walheim, European Space Agency's (ESA) Hans Schlegel and Stanley G. Love, all mission specialists. United Space Alliance (USA) suit technicians assisted the crew.


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Image 6/20, Credit NASA
The STS-122 Crew at Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

The STS-122 Crew at Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

The space shuttle Atlantis STS-122 crew poses for a group portrait at Launch Pad 39A as Atlantis undergoes final preparations for launch behind them. From left are Mission Specialists Hans Schlegel, Rex Walheim and Leland Melvin; Pilot Alan Poindexter; Commander Steve Frick; and Mission Specialists Stanley Love and Léopold Eyharts. Schlegel and Eyharts are with the European Space Agency. Eyharts remained on the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expedition 16 following the STS-122 mission.


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Image 7/20, Credit NASA
Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched on 7 February 2008

Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched on 7 February 2008

Right up to the last moment on 7 February 2008, it was uncertain if the weather conditions in Cape Canaveral in Florida would allow the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis at all. By launch time, at 14:45 (20:45 Central European Time), the clouds dispersed and NASA cleared the shuttle launch for mission STS-122. This mission brought the European research laboratory Columbus to the ISS.


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Image 8/20, Credit NASA/Sandra Joseph, Tony Gray, Robert Murray
View of the Columbus Control Center

View of the Columbus Control Center

View of the Columbus Control Center.


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Image 9/20, Credit DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Space laboratory Columbus en route to its final position

Space laboratory Columbus en route to its final position

The Columbus research laboratory en route to its new position, the right-side port of the Harmony module (Node 2). The Columbus laboratory was attached to the International Space Station ISS on 11 February 2008.


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Image 10/20, Credit ESA/NASA
NASA astronaut Rex Walheim attaches Columbus to the ISS

NASA astronaut Rex Walheim attaches Columbus to the ISS

NASA astronaut Rex Walheim during the first activity outside the spacecraft (Extra-vehicular Activity, or EVA for short) of the Columbus mission, on 11 February 2008. Together with his colleague, NASA astronaut Stanley Love, Walheim attached the Columbus space laboratory to the International Space Station ISS.


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Image 11/20, Credit NASA
NASA astronaut Rex Walheim on the ISS robotic arm

NASA astronaut Rex Walheim on the ISS robotic arm

NASA astronaut Rex Walheim during his second extra-vehicular activity on 13 February 2008. Walheim is suspended from the robotic arm (Canadarm2) of the International Space Station ISS, holding a nitrogen tank. The nitrogen tank, which is the size of a refrigerator, is used in cooling the ISS.


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Image 12/20, Credit NASA
German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel during the extra-vehicular activity

German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel during the extra-vehicular activity

German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel climbed out of the International Space Station (ISS) on 13 February 2008. The main objective of his extra-vehicular activity with NASA astronaut Rex Walheim was to replace a refrigerator-sized nitrogen tank that is part of the ISS cooling system. The spacewalk lasted from 15:27 CET to 22:12 – 6 hours and 45 minutes.


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Image 13/20, Credit ESA/NASA
Climbing practice while weightless

Climbing practice while weightless

German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel performing his extra-vehicular activity during the Columbus mission, on 13 February 2008. The image was recorded while the International Space Station ISS was flying over the night-side of the Earth, almost completely unlit.


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Image 14/20, Credit ESA/NASA
The STS-122 crew and the resident ISS crew

The STS-122 crew and the resident ISS crew

Group photo of the STS 122 crew together with the resident crew, Expedition 16, on board the International Space Station ISS.


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Image 15/20, Credit ESA/NASA
The European space laboratory Columbus is part of the ISS

The European space laboratory Columbus is part of the ISS

The Columbus laboratory, photographed after the undocking manoeuvre of the Space Shuttle Atlantis from the International Space Station ISS. During the so-called fly-around on 18 February 2008, the shuttle flies around the ISS. The Space Shuttle astronauts have used this opportunity to take pictures of the ISS in its current construction stage. During the STS-122 mission, the Columbus space laboratory was added - it is the horizontal, shiny drum in the image.


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Image 16/20, Credit ESA/NASA
ISS and Columbus module in front of Earth

ISS and Columbus module in front of Earth

The International Space Station (ISS) in orbit above Earth's night side. The illuminated part of the Earth appears in blue on the right-hand side of the image. In the centre of the image, the European Columbus laboratory can be seen as a cylinder; it was installed on the ISS in February 2008.


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Image 17/20, Credit ESA/NASA.
The Columbus laboratory

View of the Columbus laboratory from the Space Shuttle Atlantis

The European Columbus laboratory was attached to the ISS during the STS-122 mission. Columbus is a joint European project led by the European Space Agency ESA. Germany was and is prominently involved in building, operating and using Columbus. The Columbus Control Centre is located within the German Space Operations Center (Deutsches Raumfahrt-Kontrollzentrum) in Oberpfaffenhofen.


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Image 18/20, Credit NASA
ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel in front of the Space Shuttle window

ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel in front of the Space Shuttle window

After undocking from the ISS, the astronauts in the Space Shuttle Atlantis look back through the shuttle window. German ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel, who, along with his colleagues on the STS-122 mission, installed the Columbus space laboratory on the ISS and commissioned it, looks back at the work they have done.


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Image 19/20, Credit NASA
Photo op after the landing

Photo op after the landing

The astronauts of the STS-122 mission after the landing, in front of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. From left to right: Leland Melvin, Hans Schlegel, Stanley Love, Rex Walheim, Alan Poindexter, and Stephen Frick. During its mission, the crew had attached the European space laboratory Columbus to the ISS.


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Image 20/20, Credit NASA

The Columbus laboratory, Europe's key contribution to the International Space Station ISS, is the first European space laboratory designed for ongoing multidisciplinary research in space. It installed on the ISS and put into operation on 11 February 2008.

Media items
  • Exterior view of the European Columbus laboratory

    Exterior view of the European Columbus laboratory

    Image: EADS  |  Download
    Columbus is a research laboratory that offers 25 cubic metres of space to as many as three astronauts working on scientific experiments.
  • The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory

    The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL)

    Image: NASA  |  Download
    The large training-pool at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) – length: 62 metres, width: 31 metres, depth: 12 meter, capacity: 22.7 million litres.
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