ESA title
Setting sail
Science & Exploration

Columbus: 10 years a lab

16/01/2018 4763 views 96 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue… In 2008 another Columbus sailed into space. 

Next month, Europe’s Columbus laboratory achieves 10 years in orbit. Circling our planet at 28 800 km/h, this element of the International Space Station created space history as the first European module dedicated to long-term research in weightlessness.

Throughout this year, we will be celebrating its many successes as a remarkable multi-user experiment facility. 

A past full of planning

Lifting Columbus out of Atlantis' payload bay
Lifting Columbus out of Atlantis' payload bay

Like the transatlantic voyages that Christopher Columbus made half a millennium ago, the Columbus module was meticulously planned, budgeted, scrapped and redesigned before getting the official blessing to build, ship and launch.

The laboratory ascended to orbit aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA on 7 February 2008. Nestling in the spaceplane’s cargo bay, Columbus was accompanied by a seven-man crew. 

On 11 February, the crew on the International Space Station captured the new arrival. At that moment, Columbus became Europe’s first permanent human outpost in orbit and Europe became a full partner of the International Space Station.

A decade of scientific research

Full Station
Full Station

Columbus houses as many disciplines as possible in a small volume, from astrobiology to solar science through metallurgy and psychology – more than 225 experiments have been carried out during this remarkable decade. Countless papers have been published drawing conclusions from experiments performed in Columbus.

To mark the momentous occasion, the larger Columbus family of planners, builders, scientists, support teams and astronauts will gather to celebrate the lab at ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands on 7 February. More to come on this event soon …

Related Articles

Soyuz MS-11
Science & Exploration

Lung health, algae and radiation research on Space Station

24/06/2019 1420 views 24 likes
Read
Earth or Mars?
Science & Exploration

Getting ready for Mars – on the Space Station

27/05/2019 6874 views 99 likes
Read
Columbus laboratory
Science & Exploration

Clocks, gravity, and the limits of relativity

23/05/2019 6600 views 141 likes
Read
Visualising the laws of physics
Science & Exploration

Fake plastic atoms

18/12/2018 8889 views 115 likes
Read
Neuronal deterioration of worm during ageing
Science & Exploration

Worms in space to understand muscle loss

05/12/2018 3127 views 46 likes
Read
HESAC at its 31st meeting, 6 September 2018
Science & Exploration

New start for ESA’s exploration science advisory group

16/10/2018 582 views 4 likes
Read
Science & Exploration

New research opportunities on International Space Station

08/02/2019 5108 views 57 likes
Read
Sunrise seen from Space Station
Science & Exploration

The next generation of Space Station experiments

20/03/2015 7372 views 32 likes
Read
International Space Station with ATV-2 and Endeavour docked
Science & Exploration

Calling scientists: send your experiment out of this world

28/02/2014 4656 views 29 likes
Read
International Space Station during STS-134
Science & Exploration

Shining light on elusive dark matter

03/04/2013 11465 views 60 likes
Read
Cell experiment in portable glovebox
Science & Exploration

Finding the key to immunity

04/02/2013 7991 views 56 likes
Read
Installing Columbus
Science & Exploration

Five years of unique science on Columbus

12/02/2013 7945 views 42 likes
Read
Microgravity Science Glovebox
Science & Exploration

Hooray for glovebox milestone – and faster computers

31/10/2011 1313 views 3 likes
Read
André freezing blood samples
Science & Exploration

Keeping immune cells alive and kicking

08/05/2012 1623 views 10 likes
Read
Lichen
Science & Exploration

The toughest life on Earth

22/06/2012 4584 views 24 likes
Read
Setting up an experiment in the European Columbus laboratory
Science & Exploration

Astronaut Cruise control

27/02/2013 2800 views 15 likes
Read
Zero-G takeoff
Science & Exploration

European space agencies inaugurate altered-gravity aircraft

08/05/2015 11301 views 83 likes
Read

Related Links