back to article Europe hails foothold in space

Europe finally gained its long-awaited foothold in space yesterday when astronauts attached the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station, Reuters reports. Columbus attached to the ISS. Photo: NASA The $1.9 billion, ten-tonne cylinder (in pic, centre) took off aboard space shuttle Atlantis last Thursday following …

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  1. Ryan
    Coat

    European Drawer Rack

    Can you get that in Ikea?

  2. Andrew Heenan
    Thumb Down

    Waste of Cash?

    According to Wikipedia - and they have many 'insider' contributors on 'space' matters - the International Space Station is only planned to be operating until 2016. Now, we can probably add a few years to that, but it still means the whole thing is just eating taxpayers money.

    Why can't they keep the darn thing up there 'forever' - just replacing bits as they become unreliable or obsolete? Isn't that the whole point of modular building?

    After all, my grandmother's broom has been in the family for generations ... it's had three new heads and many new handles - but it's the same broom.

    Dumping the lot after a decade is dangerous, stupid ... and a gross waste of my cash!

  3. Jon Axtell
    Coat

    Telephone kiosks

    >>Columbus boasts space for ten "International Standard Payload Racks"

    >>(ISPRs), roughly the size of a telephone kiosk

    So if BT is getting rid of all it's old red boxes, maybe they can throw them up into space? A bit of recycling and the ISS gets larger!

  4. Fred
    Go

    Agreed..

    I wanna see that motha stay up for along time... im paying enough tax as it is...

  5. Dimitrov
    Coat

    @Andrew Heenan

    "After all, my grandmother's broom has been in the family for generations ... it's had three new heads and many new handles - but it's the same broom."

    Oh aye, me grampa's Scone of Stone is still the same one as well.

  6. Tawakalna

    European Drawer Rack (again)

    is that like the i-Rack, except to a Brussels standard? (ie doesnt fookin work but conforms to EU Standard 001-21009-32, Section 17, Paragraph 6a.)

  7. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    I didn't think that here in the UK...

    ...we actually had much to do with the ISS.

    I might be wrong (it's been known) but since the UK doesn't officially support manned space flight aren't we locked out of all these sort of contracts? It's highly unlikely any of our tax cash went into the ISS, let alone contracts we would be allowed to bid on if our government actually got off it's arse and agreed manned space flight was A Good Thing (tm).

    Paris, coz she needs to be blasted into space...

  8. Britt Johnston

    the lab of the century ?

    If it is the Eurolab I recall, it was started in the 1970's in ex-Zeppelin fabs at Friedrichshaven, Germany. It took a while to get up and running, then.

    Ironically, a good portion of the engineers were Americans from Boeing, who had just escaped a downsize in Seattle.

  9. Ben Lewis
    Coat

    Ant-eye Missil Missil?

    No the "i-Rack" is where Saddam Hussein kept his CD collection.

  10. Simon Ball

    @Britt Johnston

    I think you're referring to Spacelab (sometimes called Eurolab), which was a collection of palletised experiment units designed to fit in the shuttle's cargo bay, including a pressurised lab unit that was linked to the shuttle's cargo bay airlock. It was decomissioned about ten years ago.

    Though that raises an interesting question. Why didn't NASA ever build a shuttle with no cargo bay - i.e extend the pressure hull all the way back to the rear engines. Such a configuration would have plenty of space for experiments, and be able to support long duration missions, and would surely have been easier and cheaper than building a space station.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @Rob

    No, it's mostly the Germans & Italians that actually get anything done in the ESA. The British just whinge about how expensive it all is, and launch probes to Mars that are never heard from again.

    The Germans built most of this lab, and the Italians built the MPLMs, which are large payload canisters that are temporarily attached during Shuttle visits and use the same structural design. The Jules Verne ATV is mostly French, but it's basically an MPLM with rockets, guidance, and an optical auto-dock system.

    The Germans are also running the ground station for Columbus lab in Munich. So if you watch NASA Select, there's now radio calls from Houston, Munich, and the Russian ground station (can't remember the name)

  12. Mike Richards Silver badge

    @ Andrew Heenan

    The 2016 closure date has nothing to do with the ISS being life-expired at that time; it's because NASA have no plans to budget for the ISS beyond 2015. Their plan is to switch funding from the ISS to the Orion/Ares lunar exploration programme with a landing on the Moon by 2020.

    The remaining partners in the programme, Japan, Europe and Russia, want to keep the ISS open beyond 2015 but have so far refused to pay the additional contributions if the Americans pull out.

    HTH.

  13. English Bob

    European foothold?

    To paraphrase: at launch it carried five ISPRs, including the European Physiology Modules Facility, European Drawer Rack and European Transport Carrier. If those three things with "European" in their names weren't a European foothold in space, why is this fourth thing with "European" in its name being hailed as such?

  14. Britt Johnston
    Joke

    @Simon Ball, re which eurolab

    Sounds plausible, although I toured the assembly plant, and remember a cylindrical form, maybe 5 metres high and 3m in diameter. Maybe physics makes all space modules look like a giant can of worms...

  15. Andrew Heenan
    Happy

    @ Mike Richards

    @ Mike - Thanks for that ... they can keep on spending my cash, then!

    At least for now - though I can see fights ahead, as 2016 gets nearer!

    @ Dimitrov - And you should see the family hammer!

    @ Rob - We Brits certainly whinge most about the investment, but we also pay. Some direct money goes in, and I believe the EU adds more, in our name.

    As an 'enthusiast' since the Goons recorded A Russian Love Song and Russia launched the Sputnik, I don't begrudge a penny that's spent wisely. Trouble with Europe, is the word 'Wisely' has been deleted from every dictionary (along with 'gullible').

    "There is a Russian satellite moon over Arkansas, Mr President"

    "Thank heaven it is not over America

    Coulda been George W!"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @Britt Johnston

    > Maybe physics makes all space modules look like a giant can of worms...

    No, the Shuttle cargo bay makes all space modules look like a giant can of worms.

    If you have REAL launchers, you get something looking like Skylab, or maybe MIR.

    It's sad to remember we used to have a rocket that could have put ISS up in one and a half launches.

    "It's unfortunate, but the way the American people are, now that they have developed all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away."

    -- President Lyndon Johnson, on the Apollo program

  17. Jason Togneri
    Boffin

    @ Mike Richards

    Are you sure about "Ares lunar expedition"? It sounds a bit odd considering that Ares is the Roman god of war, represented by Mars.

  18. Alastair McKinstry

    closed shuttle

    @Brett: I believe the space shuttle needs to open its cargo bay doors to radiate heat, as part of its design. (Failing to open the doors was a worry in earlier

    missions). Remember, its a nice, insulated container to avoid baking on

    re-entry. Just sealing the shuttle is not as easy as it sounds.

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