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ESA astronaut Léopold Eyharts assigned to European Columbus laboratory mission to the ISS

ESA astronaut Léopold Eyharts of France has today been assigned to fly onboard the International Space Station for the delivery and commissioning of the European Columbus laboratory currently planned for this autumn.

He will be a member of the Expedition 16 crew to the ISS. He is set to fly there on Space Shuttle (Discovery) mission STS-122 and will return home with the (Endeavour) STS-123 crew some two months later.

En route to the ISS, Eyharts will be accompanied by five NASA crewmates and ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel of Germany, who was assigned to STS-122 last July.

While Eyharts will remain onboard the Station to oversee activation and check-out of the Columbus laboratory, Schegel will take a Shuttle return trip home 14 days after launch.

Léopold Eyharts has been a member of the European Astronaut Corps since 1998 and carried out his first-ever space mission to the Russian space station Mir from 29 January to 19 February 1998 as a French space agency (CNES) astronaut.

On this forthcoming mission, Eyharts will play a key part in the installation, activation and commissioning of ESA’s Columbus laboratory. Columbus is the cornerstone of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station and is the first-ever European laboratory devoted to long-term research in space. Eyharts will become the first European astronaut to test and operate in-orbit the systems of the Columbus module as well as the European science experiments carried onboard. During his ISS mission, he will act as flight engineer and will also support robotics activities.

Columbus will be transported to the Station in the Shuttle’s cargo bay together with five internal rack facilities (Biolab, the Fluid Science Laboratory, the European Physiology Module facility, the European Drawer Rack and the European Transport Carrier). Two external experiment facilities for Columbus (EuTEF and SOLAR) will also be travelling in the cargo bay and will be attached onto the outside of the laboratory module during the STS-122 mission.

ESA Media Relations Office | alfa
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