Thursday, February 7, 2008

Atlantis Reaches Space

The weather turned out to be benign (at least at Cape Canaveral) and the fuel sensors worked successfully, allowing Atlantis to launch on-time at 2:45 PM EST. The shuttle reached space several minutes later and is on its way to the International Space Station carrying the Columbus science laboratory (Europe's single largest contribution to the station).

Columbus is about 23 feet long and 15 feet wide, allowing it to hold 10 "racks" of experiments, each approximately the size of a phone booth. Five NASA racks will be added to the laboratory once it is in orbit. Each rack provides independent controls for power and cooling, as well as communication links to earthbound controllers and researchers. These links will allow scientists all over Europe to participate in their own experiments in space from several user centers and, in some cases, even from their own work locations.

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