The Space Shuttle was designed to carry large payloads into Earth orbit. One of the most important payloads is Spacelab. The Spacelab serves as a small but well-equipped laboratory in space to perform experiments in zero-gravity and make astronomical observations above the Earth's obscuring atmosphere. In this photograph, Payload Specialist, Ulf Merbold, is working at Gradient Heating Facility on the Materials Science Double Rack (MSDR) inside the science module in the Orbiter Columbia's payload bay during STS-9, Spacelab-1 mission. Spacelab-1, the joint ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA mission, was the first operational flight for the Spacelab, and demonstrated new instruments and methods for conducting experiments that are difficult or impossible in ground-based laboratories. This facility performed, in extremely low gravity, a wide variety of materials processing experiments in crystal growth, fluid physics, and metallurgy. The Marshall Space Flight Center had overall management responsibilities.