Built by the European Space Agency ESA to fit into the Shuttle cargo bay the Spacelab laboratory module was first flown in 1983 and helped to address NASAs lack of a permanent space station

NASA and the foreunner of the ESA, ESRO (see p.228), agreed to develop a laboratory module for the Shuttle's cargo bay in 1973. Europe would provide the module for free, and in exchange their astronauts would fly aboard the Shuttle as payload specialists. STS-9 was scheduled as the first of these international missions, but Spacelab would make heavy use of the TORS satellite system in order to relay experimental data back to Earth, and so the schedule was put at risk by early problems with the satellites (see p.201). However, once TDRS-A had crawled into its proper orbit and been activated in autumn 1983, the mission was given the go-ahead -the political benefits of taking an international crew aboard the Shuttle outweighed the possible loss of data due to reliance on only one satellite.

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