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STS-122 Info Orb Text

The STS-122 mission patch

The STS-122 mission patch honors the spirit of exploration. The ship represents early exploration from Europe to the Americas. The space shuttle and its orbital path show how space exploration is a continuation of those early ocean voyages.
Space shuttle Atlantis at Launch Pad 39A

STS-122 is the eighth mission to the space station for space shuttle Atlantis. Earlier shuttle missions have prepared the space station by adding solar arrays, an electrical system, and a new module to connect future additions. STS-122 delivers a new module, Columbus, where space station crews will work after it is attached to the space station.
The International Space Station with the Columbus module highlighted

The main task of the STS-122 mission is to install the Columbus module. Columbus is the European Space Agency’s largest contribution to the space station. It is a 23-by-15-foot research laboratory. The Harmony node, taken to the station by STS-120, is the connecting point for Columbus.

The Columbus module is moved from the airbus to a transportation platform

More than 500 years ago, the explorer Columbus came to the Americas by ship. The Columbus module came to the United States by bus -- airbus. A Beluga airbus flew Columbus from Germany to Florida.

A cutaway drawing of the Columbus module showing the crew working inside

The Columbus module will hold 10 experiment racks. Each rack is approximately the size of a phone booth and will have its own power and cooling systems. Racks will also have communication links so scientists in Europe will be able to participate in experiments on the space station.

The Biolab experiment rack

One of the experiment racks in the Columbus module will be Biolab. Researchers will use Biolab for experiments on micro-organisms, cells and tissue cultures, and even small plants and insects. The researchers will study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on these tiny life forms.

The Solar experiment attached to the Columbus External Payload Facility outside the space station

The space station crew will conduct experiments outside the station in the vacuum of space. The Columbus External Payload Facility on the new Columbus module has four places where experiments can be attached. One of the first experiments, Solar, will monitor the sun.

View of the space shuttle Atlantis during a rendezvous pitch maneuver

Steve Frick leads his second spaceflight as commander of STS-122. He was the pilot of STS-110 in 2002. As commander, Frick has overall responsibility for the STS-122 mission. Before docking with the space station, he will fly the shuttle in the rendezvous pitch maneuver in which Atlantis will flip over to expose its underside so that the space station crew can photograph it.

The STS-122 crew

The STS-122 crew members are (from the left) Mission Specialist Hans Schlegel and Mission Specialist Leopold Eyharts, both of the European Space Agency; Mission Specialist Stanley Love; Commander Steve Frick; Pilot Alan Poindexter; Mission Specialist Leland Melvin; and Mission Specialist Rex Walheim.

Two astronauts sit in a T-38 jet

Preparing for a spaceflight requires hours of training. An astronaut’s training includes hours of flight time in a T-38 supersonic trainer jet. Mission specialists train in the backseat of the T-38 while the pilots train in the front.

Mission Specialist Walheim prepares to enter the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The NBL is a large pool where astronauts practice for spacewalks.

To accomplish the goals of the STS-122 mission, crew members will need to perform at least three spacewalks. Rex Walheim will be the lead for the spacewalks. European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel of Germany will perform two spacewalks. Mission Specialist Stanley Love will conduct the third spacewalk with Walheim.

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