In July 2006 ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter flew to the International Space Station for his long-term stay on the ISS. Reiter, an ESA astronaut since 1992, already had experience with long-term flights - he had been on the MIR Space Station for 179 days in 1995.
The ESA mission ASTROLAB marked the beginning of the long-term presence of European astronauts on the ISS. The Astrolab mission signalled a return to a three-astronaut team, which was good news for research activities on the ISS. Two days after arriving at the ISS Reiter took over his job as second flight engineer. His tasks include the control and maintenance of the space station, monitoring of environmental and life support systems, health and safety of the crew, EVAs (Extra Vehicular Activities) and logistics handling for the Progress transporter. ASTROLAB included a European program of 36 experiments in human physiology, plasma physics, radiation dosimetry, and industry and education.
As part of this mission, key European equipment has been brought to the ISS, including the ISS freezer with -80 ° C (MELFI) and the European Modular Plant Breeding Device.
150-day mission was coordinated by the Col-CC flight operations team at GSOC under ESA commissioned and controlled and served as a realistic preparation for the Columbus flight operations and to test the Col-CC operational and communication equipment.