Euro space lab ready for blast off

Euro space lab ready for blast off

All systems go

Preparations of the European Columbus laboratory have taken an “important step” with the final closure of the module’s hatch ahead of the craft’s December launch to the International Space Station.

Although there was no formal ceremony to mark the occasion, the hatch closure is an important milestone for all involved, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported today.

“This means we are 99 per cent ready for flight,” said Bernardo Patti, ESA’s Columbus project manager.

“All the activities related to the pressurised volume are finished. The work left to be done on the exterior is considered to be minor.”

The eight-metre long Columbus laboratory is currently under preparation for flight at the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida.

The team at KSC has worked hard over the past weeks to meet the schedule. “The last checkouts were completed – the module worked perfectly and all the health checks were successful,” added Patti.

After power shutdown the team performed a meticulous check of each zone inside the module. The hatch was then closed to 80 per cent, leaving a gap to allow for final air purge, before being fully closed last week.