Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

After successfully delivering Columbus, Atlantis is back on Earth

21.02.2008
NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis, which successfully delivered ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station, has safely returned to Earth with its crew of seven. Landing was at 14:07 UTC (15:07 CET) on 20 February at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

On this STS-122 mission, the shuttle spent nearly 13 days in space, including 9 days docked to the Station to conduct a major ISS assembly task: delivery of Europe’s first permanent manned outpost in orbit. The 7-m long 12.8-tonne Columbus module, a state-of-the-art multidisciplinary laboratory, was attached to the Harmony (Node 2) module on 11 February.

Once leak checks and initial electrical, fluid and data connections were completed, the module’s hatch was opened on 12 February, marking Europe’s new status as a full partner and co-owner of the ISS. Outfitting work inside Columbus began only a few hours later, as the laboratory entered its commissioning phase, which was commanded and controlled by the Columbus Control Centre (Col-CC) located in Oberpfaffenhoffen near Munich, Germany.

Two ESA astronauts, Hans Schlegel of Germany and Léopold Eyharts of France, were ferried to the Station by Atlantis and both contributed directly to this success. As a member of the STS-122 crew, Hans Schlegel performed one of the three spacewalks during the mission with fellow astronaut Rex Walheim of NASA. He also coordinated the other two spacewalks, supporting the Columbus module’s transfer from the shuttle payload bay to the ISS, plus the transfer of two payload suites, SOLAR and EuTEF, to external platforms on the Columbus module. Hans Schlegel returned to Earth with Atlantis.

After formal crew responsibility hand-over tasks following the docking of Atlantis with the Station, Léopold Eyharts became part of the resident ISS crew (Expedition 16), trading places with NASA astronaut Dan Tani. He provided support for Columbus docking from inside the Harmony module, activating the motorised bolts to secure the junction, and assisted the third spacewalk by operating the station’s robotic arm.

Unlike Schlegel, Eyharts remained on the ISS when Atlantis undocked two days ago. He will spend the next month in space to complete the Columbus module’s commissioning and to perform a series of experiments, both in the laboratory and in the other science facilities already operating in the Station. Léopold Eyharts is scheduled to return to earth with the next shuttle ISS mission (Endeavour/STS-123), at the end of March.

ESA builds up its contribution to the ISS

With the addition of Columbus, the pressurised volume of the Space Station was increased by a mere 15%, but its science capacity was nearly doubled. Two modules of the Japanese laboratory will be added in March and May, and a Russian Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module (MLM) will follow in 2011.

A new era is also beginning for ESA’s activities onboard. As a fully-fledged partner of the ISS programme, ESA will now not only enjoy the benefits of Columbus but will also have to contribute to ISS operations. This will be achieved through the launch of unmanned servicing missions carried out by the Automated Transfer Vehicle, designed to deliver speares, scientific experiments, crew support equipment (food, clothing), fluids and propellant and to perform reboost to compensate for orbital decay of the ISS. The first ATV, Jules Verne, will be launched by an Ariane 5 on 8 March.

But ESA will also benefit from the Station by conducting experiments within its many science facilities, and by regularly sending European astronauts to perform long-duration stays onboard as members of the resident crew. Two ESA astronauts are already training for such missions: Frank de Winne of Belgium who will fly as a member of the ISS Expedition 19 crew in 2009; and André Kuipers of the Netherlands who will be his backup. More will follow.

Further European-built ISS elements are still under preparation to be launched to the ISS within the decade, such as the Material Science Laboratory (MSL), the Muscle Atrophy Resistive Exercise System (MARES), the European Robotic Arm (ERA), the Node 3 module and the Cupola observation deck.

As Columbus is coming to life, so too is the network of nine User Support and Operations Centres (USOCs), which has been set up all over Europe to facilitate the interface between researchers and the science payloads onboard, and to allow investigators to control their experiments and receive real-time data on their results, through an interconnection provided via the Columbus Control Centre.

Commissioning of the European laboratory has proceeded well and faster than planned. The two external payloads SOLAR and EuTEF have been deployed outside Columbus and already provide data. WAICO, the first experiment to be conducted inside the lab, will start this week inside Biolab. The Geoflow experiment will start up in early March inside the Fluid Science Laboratory.

Over the coming weeks and months, the USOC network’s activity will increase dramatically as the science equipment and experiments already onboard Columbus are commissioned and switched to operational status, and as more science payloads are delivered to the module by the upcoming logistics missions.

Columbus was designed to support some 500 experiments per year for ten years, in cell and plant biology, astrobiology, human physiology, fluid and material sciences, fundamental physics, astronomy, remote sensing and technology. For the European science community and industrial R&D, a new era of research has just begun.

ESA Media Relations Office | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Columbus/SEMXOTVHJCF_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>