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Spacelab-1: 40 years on


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Spacelab-1: 40 years on


Forty years ago this month, the first European-built Spacelab was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on board Space Shuttle Columbia. Also on board was Ulf Merbold, who became ESA's first astronaut in space. The 10-day Spacelab-1 mission marked ESA's entry into human spaceflight activities.


On what was only the ninth Shuttle mission, Spacelab-1 was launched on 28 November 1983 at 11:00 local time (17:00 CET). Completing 166 orbits of Earth, on a mission which lasted 10 days, 7 hours and 47 minutes, Columbia landed at Edwards Air Force base in California on 8 December 1983 at 00:47 CET.

STS-9, as the mission is also known, was a landmark flight in several ways: it would carry the first non-career astronauts (Payload Specialists), the first non-US astronaut on a NASA mission (ESA's Ulf Merbold), the longest Shuttle flight and largest crew to date, and the first operational use of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system.

Read More: ➡️ ESA


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Spacelab 1: A Model for International Cooperation


Forty years ago, in 1983, the Space Shuttle Columbia flew its first international spaceflight, STS-9. The mission included—for the first time—the European Space Agency’s Spacelab pressurized module and featured more than 70 experiments from American, Canadian, European, and Japanese scientists. Europeans were particularly proud of this “remarkable step” because “NASA, the most famous space agency on the globe,” included the laboratory on an early Shuttle mission. NASA was equally thrilled with the Spacelab and called the effort “history’s largest and most comprehensive multinational space project.” The Spacelab became a unifying force for all the participating nations, scientists, and astronauts. As explained by one of the mission’s payload specialists, Ulf Merbold, while the principal investigators for the onboard experiments might be British or French, “there is no French science, and no British science [on this flight]. Science in itself is international.” Scientists flying on the mission, and those who had experiments on board, were working cooperatively for the benefit of humanity. As then Vice-President George H. W. Bush explained, “The knowledge Spacelab will bring back from its many missions will belong to all mankind.”1

Read More: ➡️ NASA


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40 Years Ago: STS-9, the First Spacelab Science Mission


On Nov. 28, 1983, space shuttle Columbia took to the skies for its sixth trip into space on the first dedicated science mission using the Spacelab module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA). The longest shuttle mission at the time also included many other firsts. Aboard Columbia to conduct dozens of science experiments, the first six-person crew of Commander John W. Young, making his record-breaking sixth spaceflight, Pilot Brewster H. Shaw, Mission Specialists Owen K. Garriott and Robert A.R. Parker, and the first two payload specialists, American Byron K. Lichtenberg and German Ulf Merbold representing ESA, the first non-American to fly on a U.S. space mission. During the 10-day Spacelab 1 flight, the international team of astronauts conducted 72 experiments in a wide variety of science disciplines.



Left: The STS-9 crew patch. Middle: Official photo of the STS-9 crew of Owen K. Garriott, seated left, Brewster H. Shaw, John W. Young, and Robert A.R. Parker; Byron K. Lichtenberg, standing left, and Ulf Merbold of West Germany representing the European Space Agency. Right: The payload patch for Spacelab 1.

Read More: ➡️ NASA

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