On 7 February 2008 Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched to the International Space Station carrying ESA's Columbus laboratory.
Over 6 m long and more than 10 tonnes, its shell was built in Italy and completed in Germany. Columbus was shipped to the US to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center. ESA astronauts Léopold Eyharts and Hans Schlegel joined the Shuttle crew to install the module on the orbital complex.
Since then, more than a hundred ESA-led experiments have been conducted in many areas such as biology, fluid physics, material sciences, radiation physics and the human body.