Launched on 28 November 1983 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, the European-built Spacelab was the first purpose-built space laboratory. Also onboard was Ulf Merbold, who became ESA's first astronaut in space. Over the course of 30 years, Spacelab modules flew on the Space Shuttle 22 times and totalled 244 days in orbit.
Cut-out view of Spacelab in orbit. ESA developed Spacelab as a manned scientific laboratory to fly in the Space Shuttle's cargo bay.
Meeting of the Preliminary Design Review Board for Spacelab at ERNO, Bremen, 4 December 1976. Back to camera, Messrs Ziegenbein, Berge and Hoffmann (ERNO). Facing camera, Messrs Powell (NASA), Emiliani, Bossche, Stoewer, Bignier (ESA), Lindley (NASA) and Mory (ESA)
Views of Spacelab-1 integration with Shuttle orbiter Columbia at Kennedy Space Center, 16 August 1983
The ESA Spacelab-1 laboratory module in the payload bay of Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-9, November 1983
STS-9 Commander John Young (left) and Spacelab-1 Payload Specialist Ulf Merbold enjoy a meal break in the middeck of Columbia
STS-61 Payload Specialist Ernst Messerschmid undergoes medical checks by NASA Mission Specialist Guy Bluford during the Spacelab D1 mission, 1985
The crew of the Spacelab D1 mission (30 October to 6 November 1985) pose on the mid-deck of the Shuttle Challenger. From left, top row, Hank Hartsfield, Bonnie Dunbar, Steve Nagel, Reinhard Furrer (DE), below, Ernst Messerschmid (DE), Wubbo Ockels (NL), Jim Buchli and Guy Bluford.
An inspiring view of the Spacelab D-1 module in the Shuttle Challenger's open payload bay, viewed through the flight-deck rear windows. The Shuttle manipulator arm is on the right, and the disc of Earth in the background. The Spacelab D1 mission flew in space between 30 October and 6 November 1985.
ESA astronaut Dirk Frimout using foot restraints shares a meal with the rest of the crew on Space Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-45 in 1992. The mission deployed the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS-1) on Spacelab pallets.
Prof. Ulrich Walter in Spacelab D2, on the STS-55 mission in 1993.
NASA Astronauts Carl Meade and Mark Lee, with red stripe, test the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system above Earth. The test was the first phase of a larger programme leading to the development of a production version on the International Space Station.
Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-64 launched 9 September 1994 and included external experiments on the European-designed Spacelab pallets.
Space station Mir docked with Space Shuttle Atlantis on 4 July 1995 during the Spacelab-Mir mission STS-65.
A night-time view from Space Shuttle Columbia with the European-designed Spacelab Science Module, hosting 16-days of Neurolab research. The tunnel that leads from the cabin to the science module in the cargo bay is at bottom center.
Spacelab was the European participation in Space Shuttle programme. Investigations during the Neurolab mission on the Columbia's flight in 1998 focused on the effects of microgravity on the nervous system. Experiments studied the adaptation of the vestibular system, the central nervous system, and the pathways that control the ability to sense location in the absence of gravity, as well as the effect of microgravity on a developing nervous system.