Developed by the European Space Agency, Spacelab was a modular laboratory system installed in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle orbiter. During Spacelab missions in the 1980s and 1990s, the Shuttle served as an intermittent space station for research conducted by scientists and astronauts. The laboratory module, a pressurized cylindrical room connected by a tunnel to the crew cabin, was Spacelab's primary element. It was outfitted with racks containing subsystems, computers, work stations, stowage lockers, supplies, equipment, and experiments that varied from mission to mission.
Two laboratory modules were flown on a total of 16 missions from 1983 through 1998. This one, Module #1, was used nine times, first on the Spacelab 1 mission in 1983 and last on the Microgravity Science Laboratory missions in 1997. NASA transferred it to the Museum in 1998 when the Spacelab program ended.