Experiences

The Spacelab legacy

The Spacelab legacy

In April 1973, the North American Space Agency (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed an agreement to build a microgravity laboratory, which would travel with the Columbia space shuttle on its space missions to perform experiments lasting up to nine days. One year later, Europe began to develop Spacelab as an integral element of the US Space Transport System.

The laboratory had four main components: a pressurised module containing a laboratory; several pallets for materials and equipment requiring experiments in vacuum; an access tunnel to the module; and subsystems needed to operate the equipment.

On 28 November 1983, the first space laboratory built in Europe, ‘Spacelab-1’ was launched inside the space shuttle with the first ESA astronaut, Ulf Merbold, on board. This journey signalled the inauguration of the European Space Agency in manned space flights and with it, SENER's first large contract in flight equipment. Specifically, the company contributed to the mission with 165 earth-based support teams and headed the European consortium.

In 1998, after 25 flights, Spacelab was disarmed and is now on display in the airport of Bremen (Germany).

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