Columbus (ISS module)

The Columbus Module on the International Space Station
Hans Schlegel working on outfitting Columbus
One instrument mounted on Columbus was ISS-RapidScat, and this graphic shows the location of Columbus and where that instrument was mounted on the Module. The instrument was installed in 2014 and operated until 2016.

Columbus is a science laboratory that is part of the International Space Station (ISS) and is the largest single contribution to the ISS made by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Like the Harmony and Tranquility modules, the Columbus laboratory was constructed in Turin, Italy by Thales Alenia Space. The functional equipment and software of the lab was designed by EADS in Bremen, Germany. It was also integrated in Bremen before being flown to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida in an Airbus Beluga. It was launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on February 7, 2008 on flight STS-122. It is designed for ten years of operation. The module is controlled by the Columbus Control Centre, located at the German Space Operations Centre, part of the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany.

The European Space Agency has spent 1.4 billion (about US$2 billion) on building Columbus, including the experiments that will fly in it and the ground control infrastructure necessary to operate them.[1]


The laboratory is a cylindrical module with two end cones. It is 4,477 mm (14 ft 8.3 in) in external diameter and 6,871 mm (22 ft 6.5 in) in overall length, excluding the projecting external experiment racks. Its shape is very similar to that of the Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLMs), since both were designed to fit in the cargo bay of a Space Shuttle orbiter. The starboard end cone contains most of the laboratory's on-board computers. The port end cone contains the Common Berthing Mechanism.

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