Columbus activation underway

The astronauts are busy inside Columbus
12 February 2008

The STS-122 and International Space Station crews are busy with tasks to activate the European Columbus laboratory. Attached to the Station during a spacewalk on Monday, Columbus’ hatch was opened for the first time at 15:08 CET this morning.

ESA astronaut Léopold Eyharts was the first to venture inside the newest addition to the International Space Station. Before entering Eyharts said “This is a great moment and Hans and I are very proud to be here and to ingress for the first time the Columbus module."

"I think it starts a new era now, the volume of the European scientific module, Columbus, and the ISS are connected for many, many years of research in space in cooperation, internationally," added ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel.

Hans Schlegel (centre) took part in a US media event

The STS-122 and International Space Station crews decided to press ahead with Columbus outfitting tasks foregoing the official hatch opening planned for 20:55 CET (19:55 UT).

“We are very pleased indeed to see the crew inside the laboratory,” said Alan Thirkettle, ESA’s ISS Programme Manager. “We are equally happy with the fact that Columbus-CC [Control Centre] in Oberpfaffenhofen is controlling all of the activities now.”

“Its really exciting to see the crew moving in to this new module. It is really neat to see how the Space Station is growing and coming to its full potential,” added Kirk Shireman, NASA’s ISS Deputy Programme Manager.

Referring to the temporary shutdown of a Space Station cooling loop which occurred during initial Columbus activation, Shireman added: “The hiccup or two we are having in the activation are certainly not planned but are the kind of things that can be expected with a complicated module like Columbus.”

Columbus was attached to ISS on Monday

The crews will now continue to set-up and activate systems inside the laboratory – installing power, data and fluid lines – as well as preparing to relocate the Columbus experiment facilities from their launch locations to their on-orbit locations.

From 01:00 CET (00:00 UT) this evening, STS-122 crew members Rex Walheim and Hans Schlegel will ‘camp out’ in the Station’s Quest Airlock in preparation for the mission’s second spacewalk, scheduled to start at 15:35 CET (14:35 UT) tomorrow. Their tasks include outfitting the outside of Columbus.

The Columbus laboratory was attached to the International Space Station on Monday 11 February during the first of three spacewalks scheduled for the STS-122 mission.

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