Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Columbus Lab Attached and Ready for Scientific Use and Mars Mission Update

Well I got a few topics today and I will kick it off the the story of the Columbus Lab that was attached to the ISS today. The Atlantis shuttle carried up the Columbus module on its launch, and on Monday two spacewalking astronauts attached a handle to Columbus that allowed the robotic arm operator to grab hold of the module and delicately lift it from Atlantis' cargo bay. The module was moved from the cargo bay to the right side of the Harmony module, which Discovery's astronauts delivered in December.
The $2 billion, 10-ton Columbus laboratory, originally scheduled to be launched in 1992 to mark the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, is Europe's main contribution to the space station. The module went online today around 9 am eastern time. After the lab's launch was delayed for months, and its actual attachment delayed slightly by one astronaut's sickness, it's finally up and working, and except for a minor cooling system glitch it is fully functional.
Also the new lab's ESA control center near Munich, Germany is now online, where 100 flight controllers and engineers are working in three shifts to watch over Columbus around the clock alongside U.S. and Russian operations centers.
Despite a small torn thermal insulation blanket on Atlantis' starboard aft engine pod, Atlantis is scheduled to return to Earth February 19, though that may be extended one more day so the shuttle crew can get a little more work done on the ISS. Also Japan's multi-module Kibo laboratory is due to launch toward the station later this spring.

In other news, European space officials are redesigning their planned ExoMars mission, hoping to substantially increase the planned capabilities; though this means doubling the nearly already $1 billion budget. European Space Agency head Jean Jacques Dordain says that their goals have increased, and their mission has changed dramatically, and this calls for a new name and a much higher budget. The mission is scheduled for launch in 2013.

And here are some links to a few stories that I found pretty interesting. Wired.com has an article about the upcoming Presidential Science Debate 2008, which they have finally set the date for. Also Darnell Clayton of Colony Worlds put up a very interesting post about a future lunar base contemplating some of the problems and solutions. And finally Frasier Cain of Universe Today wrote about Hubble finding the oldest galaxy ever found.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to stop by on Thursday when I will be hosting the amazing, astounding, and astronomically awesome Carnival of Space.

Sources: BBC, Space.com
Picture Sources: NASA, Wikipedia.com

The Fool


Bob Johnson said...

Cool updates the fool, be back Thursday.

Swubird said...

Great post. We missed Columbus" birthday, but that's okay. In fact, I'm surprised that the radical activists who hate Columbus didn't come out of the woodwork and gripe!

I heard that one of the astronauts was sick, but what was the nature of his illness? Have you heard. There is a thing called, Space Acclimation Syndrome. SAS is similar to motion sickness, and I wondered if that was it.

Is the plan to link up the Japanese Kibo Laboratory to the ISS?

Keep up the good blogging, and have a nice day.

Max-e said...

Thanks for you updates. It is nice to keep up to date with space exploration

The Fool said...

Thanks Bob, hope to see you Thursday.

Well Swubird I haven't heard much about the astronauts actual sickness, though I think they might not be disclosing it just to give the astronaut some privacy. I guess it is possible that he had SAS, but I'm not sure. And yes the Kibo Lab is going to be attached to the ISS, which should happen hopefully in the spring when it is scheduled to be launched.

Yea no problem Max, thanks for keeping yourself updated.

The Fool

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