Cape Canaveral, 7 February 2007 – Europe’s space laboratory Columbus is in space: The US space shuttle Atlantis was successfully launched on Thursday evening (February 7th, 2007, 20.45 CET) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to carry the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station ISS. The module – built by Airbus Defence and Space for the European Space Agency ESA – is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Saturday, February 9th.
“Columbus is a major achievement. Thanks to the commitment of the European Space Agency, Europe will now play a major part in humanity’s adventures in space. The next step will be the delivery of the Automated Transfer Vehicle on which Airbus Defence and Space is also prime contractor – essential for re-supplying the ISS and keeping it in its proper orbit”, said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.
"The successful launch of the space shuttle marks the promising beginning of a new dimension of research in space. After the commissioning of Columbus – in a few days – the research teams from all over the world will possess a unique laboratory for their experiments. The employees of our space division not only supplied a technical masterpiece but they will take part in the manifold tasks of the starting operation of the space laboratory; with their expertise they will also contribute to the successful use of Columbus”, said Michael Menking, Airbus Defence and Space Senior Vice President for Orbital Systems.
Atlantis is scheduled to dock to the ISS on the third mission day (Saturday, 9 February). One day later, Columbus will be lifted out of its cargo bay and docked to the station. The two ESA astronauts Hans Schlegel (Germany) and Léopold Eyhartz (France) will connect Columbus to the station and start its operation.
With a length of 8 metres, a diameter of 4.5 metres and a weight of about 13 tons, the Columbus multi-purpose laboratory is one of Europe’s cornerstone contributions to the ISS along with the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV). It is equipped with its own life support system and provides room for three scientific astronauts who will carry out experiments and tasks in a variety of basic research disciplines. The space laboratory will be part of the ISS and is designed for a minimum service life of ten years. As ESA’s prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space has successfully coordinated 14 different nations in the course of the programme.
Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2006, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €3.2 billion and 12,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, and Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment, and its wholly owned subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space for the development and delivery of satellite services.
AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2006, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €39.4 billion and employed a workforce of more than 116, 000.
Media Contacts :
Airbus Defence and Space (UK) Jeremy Close + 44 1 43 8 77 38 72
Airbus Defence and Space (GER) Mathias Pikelj + 49 7545 891 23