ESA cannot launch Columbus until shuttle flights resume

Until shuttle flights are resumed, the European Space Agency (ESA) is unable to launch Columbus Orbiting Facility, a research facility, and dock it with the International Space Station (ISS), Jorg Feustel-Buechl, the head of ESA human spaceflight, at an international symposium devoted to the 15th anniversary of Russian-European cooperation in the human spaceflight.

"Columbus will be ready by the middle of 2006 which is of great importance for us, as we have a special research program for it," Mr. Feustel-Buechl noted.

But, "since we have no shuttle, we can not launch Columbus and dock it with the ISS," he said.

Columbus is undergoing a number of tests on the ground.

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