European ISS Laboratory Arrives at NASA Spaceport
The European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory is completed by EADS workers.
Credit: ESA/EADS.

CAPE CANAVERAL - A European science laboratory will be delivered to a Kennedy Space Center processing facility today after a transoceanic trip aboard one of the largest cargo aircraft in the world.

Set for launch aboard a shuttle in late 2007, the Columbus lab is the European Space Agency's prime contribution to the International Space Station project.

It arrived at KSC's shuttle runway Tuesday aboard a giant Beluga aircraft, a European super transporter designed to carry huge cargo.

The cylindrical lab, which is named for the European explorer who discovered the New World, is to be offloaded from the aircraft early today and then transported to the Space Station Processing Facility in the KSC industrial area.

"We'll have a welcoming ceremony Friday which will include our international partners," KSC spokeswoman Tracy Young said.

The Columbus lab is capable of housing up to 10 experiment racks the size of telephone booths on the inside of the module.

Once in orbit, the lab will be attached to the starboard docking port of a U.S. node that will serve as a gateway between the American, European and Japanese sections of the station. It is scheduled to fly on the eighth of 16 station assembly missions NASA aims to fly before retiring its three-orbiter shuttle fleet.

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