It was great to learn that the Atlantis shuttle was finally launched successfully yesterday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Aboard, there's the European-built laboratory named Columbus, which weighed in at 12.8 tons: a lot of excess baggage! The laboratory will be operated by the European Space Agency [website].
The French astronaut Léopold Eyharts will be staying up in the sky for a while to install Columbus at the ISS [International Space Station]. There's also a German astronaut in the crew. The arrival in space of this laboratory, 7 meters in length, will be a momentous event for European research. The ESA director general, Jean-Jacques Dordain, declared: “When the hatch is opened and the astronauts enter Columbus to switch on and commission its science payloads, this will be a great day for Europe, and I see this day coming very soon now.”