Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC)

The experimental units in the Columbus laboratory work mainly automatically or are remotely controlled from Earth. To enable the scientists to monitor the progress of their experiments directly or to intervene interactively via tele-operation, there are five special user support operations centers (USOCs) in Europe. Each one specializes in a specific research discipline and is located in a different ESA member state. These USOCs are the link between the experimental facilities in space and the scientists and engineers on the ground. High-speed networks ensure rapid communication. All user centers are connected to the international mission centers in the USA, Russia and Japan via the European ISS ground network.

In Germany, the Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) at DLR in Cologne is acting as the national user center. The focus here is on bio and material science research under microgravity conditions. Data from the ISS has been received here since 2004, and experiments are monitored and controlled. The MUSC operates the space station facilities Biolab, Expose (completed), Matroshka (completed), DOSIS, Materials Science Lab (MSL), FASTER (Facility for Absorption and Surface Tension) (completed) and EML (Electromagnetic Levitator) on behalf of ESA.