Columbus prepares to set sail for Space Station
Two European astronauts will be aboard Atlantis. Leopold Eyharts will remain on the International Space Station with the Expedition 16 crew to oversee the commissioning of Columbus and its facilities, while Hans Schlegel will return on the shuttle.
"The transfer to the canister is an essential step forward for the Columbus laboratory towards its launch and its final attachment to the ISS," said Alan Thirkettle, ESA's International Space Station programme manager.
"It is indeed a symbolic moment for all those who have been contributing to the development of Columbus. Another step towards launch, a moment they will remember and of which they can be very proud."
The 8 metre long, 4.5 metre diameter Columbus has a projected life of 110 years. It accommodates up to ten phonebooth-sized payload racks that will be home to a range of scientific experiments including biology, physiology and physics projects. Additional experiments can be attached outside the hull.
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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.