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Columbus Sets Sail!

A major milestone has been reached by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) – the Columbus research module, built by ESA, has just been attached to the International Space Station (ISS) during the current NASA/ESA Shuttle mission (STS-122). And, the large Japanese KIBO research module is scheduled for launch this spring. For those of us space research types who remember when the ISS was still a vision, the promise for it to be a true international space research facility, is gradually being fulfilled. To give some human perspective to this accomplishment, a space life scientist colleague of mine retired from NASA about 20 years ago who had already worked on what has now become the ISS, for 20 years. Both NASA and ESA deserve major credit for continuing to work through many challenges to ensure that the Columbus will finally produce research results to support both space exploration and many applications on Earth. The ISS is apparently still only about 60% assembled, but when completed it will be a world-class opportunity for international cooperation in space. Considering the global challenges the world is facing, we need this example of practical international cooperation now, more than ever.

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