I love, love, love the International Space Station (hey, what else could I say as a science fiction fan?) but so far it has done very little except to prove – since it has not floated away into space – that gravity actually works.
I knew that.
But yesterday, with some 16 years delay, the european space laboratory Columbus was connected to the ISS, enhancing it’s capability for science experiments – which is where I get a bit of a problem, since for all my enthusiasm I know only in very broad terms what actual experiments Columbus is supposed to do or what’s going to happen with the results, and the coverage on the websites of ESA and DLR is hardly exhaustive. Columbus was quite expensive (well, unless you compare it with what in a country like Germany is spent on cigarettes or alcohol or simply wasted) and it feels a bit odd to be left out of the loop when, as a matter of fact, my taxes helped to pay for the loop. Now that the thing is finally in place I expect detailed reports on what experiments are done, why they are worth the effort and if and how the results are released to the public.
Having part in a space station is all very nice but it shouldn’t be an end in itself. We’re waiting for the goods so now, deliver.