Home Technology Astronauts enter space station’s new European lab

Astronauts enter space station’s new European lab

By Xinhua

Washington : Astronauts aboard the orbiting International Space Station opened the newly-installed European Columbus laboratory and conducted some outfitting tasks on Tuesday.

European-built Columbus lab was delivered to the station by U.S. space shuttle Atlantis, which lift off on Feb. 7 after a series of delays.

Station flight engineer Leopold Eyharts and shuttle mission specialist Hans Schlegel, both European Space Agency astronauts, opened the hatches to the new Columbus laboratory at 9:08 a.m. EST(1408 GMT), reported NASA’s mission control center.

Just prior to hatch opening, Eyharts remarked, “This is a great moment and Hans and I are very proud to be here and to ingress for the first time the Columbus module.”

After stepping into the station’s newest room, Eyharts first photographed the interior for preliminary check. “Visual inspection is good. It shows no sign of debris or condensation and it looks like the atmosphere is of good quality,” reported Eyharts.

The crew members orbiting up there rolled up their sleeves on Tuesday outfitting the new module, in order to set up and get the laboratory running as soon as possible. They hooked up power, fluid and data lines linking Columbus to the station.

As they were busy working for the new lab, NASA’s mission control center told them that shuttle Atlantis’ torn insulation thermal blanket was cleared for re-entry.

“That’s great news,” Atlantis commander Stephen Frick said as mission control radioed up the good news. “It’s a relief knowing we don’t have to go back there and mess with it.”

On Monday, astronauts used the station’s robotic arm to secure Columbus to the orbital outpost. Then mission specialists Rex Walheim and Stanley Love conducted the first of three scheduled mission spacewalks. On Wednesday and Friday respectively, astronauts will conduct the next two spacewalks to do some exterior outfitting tasks for the new module.