Exploration in Zero Gravity

Columbus is the European research laboratory at the International Space Station ISS. It was permanently mounted to the ISS and became operational on February 11, 2008. The multi-purpose laboratory enables multidisciplinary research under weightlessness. In addition to experiments on gravitation, radiation, astrobiology and human physiology, scientists are engaged in projects on basic research, materials science, fluid and solid-state physics as well as plasma research. In the field of space medicine, the focus is primarily on the study of muscle and bone degradation. Among other things, these investigations also provide important insights for the preparation of long-term missions of astronauts to the moon or other destinations in the future.

Columbus Laboratory 360°

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There is space for a total of 16 racks in the Columbus module. Ten are available for the scientific equipment of the various experiments. Three serve as storage space and three contain technology for the infrastructure, primarily for the power and water supply and the air conditioning system. The racks with scientific equipment are designed for one research area each. They have a modular design with plug-in units so that experiments or equipment can be quickly exchanged. Each rack has its own power supply, cooling systems and, subject to task, video and data lines.

In addition to the experiments inside, there is a four-platform device on the outside of Columbus. These provide excellent opportunities for experiments directly exposed to the environmental conditions of space.


Length: 69m

Diameter: 4.5m

Mass without payloads: 10,275kg (Launch configuration)

Maximum mass of the payload racks 9,000kg

Payload racks: 10 (up to 500kg per rack)

Experiments in the Columbus Laboratory