February 12, 2008
Posted: 10:46 AM ET
Astronauts are entering the European Columbus laboratory for the first time today, kicking off the start of a new era on the orbiting outpost.
French astronaut Leo Eyharts was the first in, wearing goggles and a surgical mask to protect against "foreign object debris" - things like tiny metal shavings - left over from the manufacturing process. Once the vents and fans are switched on and the air starts "turning over" in the lab, all the particulate matter will get filtered out.
Next up: the astronauts will start outfitting the lab for use...installing racks and hooking up equipment.
Crew members are also doing two sets of media interviews today.
In the first one, NFL player-turned-astronaut Leyland Melvin, who installed Columbus onto the ISS Monday using the station's robotic arm, commented on the parallels between sports and being part of the Atlantis crew.
"On the grid iron it is all about team work, and in space it is about teamwork. We have people on the ground in Germany, in the the U.S., all over the world helping us get this attached to the International Space Station. So when you think about sports, you think about teams, and sportsmanship, we have all of that here in space."
Another set of interviews is set for later this afternoon, with Hans Schlegel scheduled to participate. You will recall Schlegel is the German astronaut who had to miss the first spacewalk of the mission, apparently due to motion sickness. I'll update the blog if he says anything interesting.
–Kate Tobin, Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology
Filed under: NASA
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