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Spacelab is a microgravity laboratory flown into space on the Space Shuttle. It consists of a large cylindrical main laboratory that is flown in the rear of the Space Shuttle cargo bay, connected to the crew compartment by a long tube.

In April 1973 NASA and the ESA (then known as the ESRO) agreed to build a modular science package. Construction of Spacelab started in 1974 by the ERNO (represented by VFW-Fokker GmbH, later bought by MBB, and since 2003 part of EADS Space Transportation). The first lab, LM1, was given to NASA free of charge in exchange for flight opportunities for european astronauts. A second lab, LM2, was bought by NASA for its own needs. The system also included a system of external pallets for experiments in vacuum, built by British Aerospace.

Spacelab was used in 25 shuttle flights, but was decommissioned in 1998 - science work was supposed to be moved to the International Space Station and Spacehab module, a smaller version of Spacelab. The palette was recommissioned in 2002 for flight on STS-99, and future use is likely.

Spacelab missions