* Important milestone for the European space laboratory
* Astrium fulfils customers’ requirements
* Columbus integration to start in the middle of 2001 at the Astrium site in   Bremen
The European Space Agency ESA and the US Space Agency NASA have given the go-ahead in Bremen for further assembly of the Columbus laboratory module which will be used in the International Space Station. Go-ahead was preceded by a comprehensive review of all construction documents. This review resulted in a few modifications only so that Columbus integration can now be proceeded as scheduled. Astrium’s Space Infrastructure business division said on Friday that the company, as the prime contractor in this large-scale project, considered this go-ahead as a token of confidence in the quality of planning.
The construction documents, covering 90 file folders or ten CD-Rom’s, had been thoroughly reviewed by ESA and NASA experts in the past two months. The CDR (Critical Design Review) carried out by the experts ensures that Astrium and the partners involved fulfill customers’ requirements and that Columbus will work properly together with the other station modules. During the final phase of the CDR, about 120 representatives of ESA, NASA and Boeing, NASA’s industrial partner, met in Bremen to discuss all open questions. this meeting, which was held during the last two weeks, was intended to conjointly resolve about 1,200 remarks and suggestions for modification mainly concerning technical details.
Astrium, which is a joint venture by EADS European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and BAe Systems, in which EADS holds a stake of 75% , offered development and construction of the European laboratory module Columbus to ESA at a fixed price of 628 million euro and was awarded with a contract in spring 1996. In order to be able to keep the intended schedule, Astrium started with the construction of the module immediately after the contract was secured. Astrium’s Italian partner Alenia has almost finished the structure of the laboratory (shell, support facilities for the experiment racks, power supply systems, climatic units, etc.).
Structure delivery to Bremen is scheduled for summer next year. The project will then enter its final phase: Scientific payloads will be integrated into the module at the Astrium site in Bremen. Extensive system testing will be carried out and astronauts will undergo training in the use of the hardware systems. Delivery of the ready-to-fly Columbus module to the United States is expected at the beginning of 2004 where it will once again undergo extensive system testing. Docking with the International Space Station is scheduled for October 2004.