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Euro space lab to launch 15 years late

Europe's Columbus space laboratory will finally be launched on a flight to the International Space Station on Thursday, 15 years late. Scientists and engineers throughout Europe have been waiting for this moment since work on the 1bn module, due to go up with a crew of seven aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, began in 1982.

The 17-nation European Space Agency originally signed up for Nasa's space station project with the aim of launching Columbus in 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great navigator's voyage to the New World.

The laboratory will allow experiments to be conducted on the behaviour of weightless liquids, and onmicro-organisms, cells and tissues.