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February 12, 2008

Entering Columbus

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

Share this on:   February 12th, 2008 11:38 am ET

Progress with the Space Station shows how space exploration really does promote world peace and cooperation. What projects will accomplish this after the stations retirement in 2016? Contact congressmen and Candidates and demand that they pledge support of a manned moon mission in 2020.

We are already on track, but Barack Obama has said that he will derail that, and the other candidates have not specifically endorsed it.

Make your voice heard to the policy makers!

Richard   February 12th, 2008 3:41 pm ET

How long is it since the Columbus module was last opened? I presume it must have been wrapped up for quite a few months by now.

@action for space: I think there was talk of a science debate between the presidential candidates, but there was not very much interest from the public or the candidates. I'm appalled by the lack of talk of science, especially the environment, there has been in this campaign.


Ron   February 18th, 2008 3:27 pm ET

We have come to a time in our evolution when we must start taking more steps toward the future. We have a space station of sorts, we need to keep adding to it so more scientists can operate there and we can use it as a base to launch future trips to the moon, Mars or just study the effects on different virus's, plants, metal. If we are to take prolonged trips to other planets, we must know the long term effects on our working tools , inviornment and ourselves. Space exploration and planet exploration is a must for our race. People have to be really dumb to think that out of millions of galaxies that we have the only planet able to support life. We must find these planets.

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