Brussels, 24 Apr 2006
The Columbus laboratory is Europe's cornerstone contribution to the International Space Station. Final integration has been successfully completed in Bremen. Columbus will be shipped to Cape Canaveral at the end of May, from where it will be flown on a Space Shuttle to the ISS in the second half of 2007. During its planned 10-year operational lifetime, scientific researchers in Europe, with the help of the astronauts onboard and a Europe-wide support infrastructure on the ground, will be able to conduct a vast programme of experiments in the areas of the life and physical sciences, materials science, fundamental physics and technology research.
ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and EADS SPACE Transportation President Evert Dudok are inviting leading figures from industry, research institutes, space agencies and government institutions involved in the programme, together with political representatives and the media, to attend a ceremony to celebrate the completion of Columbus development on 2 May, starting at 10:00, at EADS SPACE Transportation in Bremen, Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel will be attending the event and addressing the participants. The ceremony will be followed at 12:15 by a press conference given by a panel including ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Council Chair and Chair of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) Sigmar Wittig, NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and EADS SPACE Transportation President Evert Dudok. Journalists will also have the opportunity to conduct individual interviews with the panellists and other key contributors to the ISS programme after the press conference, and to visit the Columbus laboratory in small groups in the EADS clean room, its present location.
The venue for the event is within walking distance of Bremen airport. Media representatives wishing to attend the ceremony and the media programme are requested to fill in the attached form and return it to the ESA Media Relations Division.