9 hours ago
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
This morning I found myself at the German embassy meeting with the ambassador and members of the European and German space industry. It was a very interesting breakfast where I learned of Germany's contribution to the International Space Station (Germans give more than any other member of the European Space Agency). It is a research lab known as Columbus and is expected to be launched with the help of NASA and the space shuttle by October or November, 2007. Within Columbus, astronauts such as Thomas Reiter, will be able to conduct experiments on plants and other living things. Another area of innovation is the ATV, or Automated Transfer Vehicle, perhaps the most technologically complex module ever designed, relying almost solely on remote controls and robotics. The ATV may ultimately replace the shuttle, scheduled for retirement in 2010.