On December 6, 2007, that Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch with the European Space Agency's (ESA) Columbus Space Laboratory to attach it to the International Space Station (ISS). It was originally scheduled to launch in 2002 but after the Columbia disaster and other ISS delays, the mission was delayed for five years.
The lab arrived in Florida in May of 2006. NASA is currently inspecting and preparing the Columbus Lab for its December launch. Inspectors will examine the lab for air leaks, check the electrical system, look for leaks in the water cooling system.
The Columbus Project Manager, Bernardo Patti said, "Once Columbus is operational, we will have a permanent presence on the Station. We will own our own real estate... ESA will be able to meet its scientific objectives as a full partner, sharing resources with other ISS participants rather than simply purchasing them."When the lab is attached, astronauts will finally be able to conduct experiments and research that they have waited five years to do.
Original Article: ESA