ESA external facilities

The Columbus laboratory is ESA's biggest single contribution to the International Space Station. The 4.5-metre diameter cylindrical module is equipped with flexible research facilities that offer extensive science capabilities.

Outside its comfortable, pressurized hull, Columbus has four mounting points for external payloads. Exposed to the vacuum of space, and with an unhindered view of the Earth and outer space, science packages can investigate anything from the ability of bacteria to survive on an artificial meteorite to volcanic activity 400 km below on the Earth.

Experiments are accommodated on the Columbus External Payload Adaptor, consisting of an adapter plate, the Active Flight Releasable Attachment Mechanism and the connectors and harness. The experiments are mounted either directly on the Adapter plate or a support structure that elevates them for optimum exposure to the direction of flight or pointing away from the Earth.

Please find in the right hand column ESA’s External Facilities for Life and Physical Sciences.

Last update: 13 May 2009

Copyright 2000 - 2014 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.