LONDON—Space scientists from Western Europe and the Soviet Union are involved in what may be the most extensive extraterrestrial collaboration between the two sides in the 30-year history of the space age.

The cooperation comes in the form of an orbiting observatory that is expected to begin transmitting data shortly. The Roentgen laboratory for collecting X-rays in space was built largely by scientists from the Netherlands, Britain, West Germany and the 13-nation European Space Agency and was lifted into orbit by the Soviet Union. It was carried inside Kvant, an 11-ton unmanned module that docked April 13 with Mir, the Soviet Union's latest space station that currently is manned by two cosmonauts. Soviet scientists plan to switch on Roentgen by early June, when the four instruments inside the laboratory will start collecting radiation to help plot new star maps. A team of a dozen scientists from the four Western European...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!