Named Celsius after the 18th Century astronomer who invented the thermometer, ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang's mission will mark the beginning of the final construction stage of the International Space Station.
Swedish ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang will fly to the ISS in December 2006 as part of the seven-strong STS-116 Space Shuttle crew. The rewiring process of the ISS will begin with NASA ground control switching off power to the Station. Along with NASA astronaut Robert Curbeam, Fuglesang will float outside the Station to connect the electrical systems to new solar panels attached in September.
The Shuttle crew will be received by the three astronauts who are currently living on board the ISS. Among them is German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter. It will be the first time ever that two ESA astronauts are on board the Station at the same time. Reiter will travel back to Earth with the Shuttle crew at the end of the STS-116 mission.
With this expanded electrical system the ISS will be ready to receive the European Columbus laboratory, due for launch in late 2007. By this stage new supplies should also be arriving in orbit thanks ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.