The “Leonardo” is one of three Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), built to ferry supplies and equipment to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Its current mission is the eighth, and last, mission. It has received upgraded space debris protection and easier access to its internal storage racks, and has been installed on the ISS as a Permanent Multipurpose Module.
Leonardo is a cylindrical module 4.5 meters (15 feet) in diameter and 5 meters (21 feet) long. It weighs 4.5 tons empty and can carry up to 10 tons of cargo. Now permanently attached to the Space Station, it will serve as storage space for scientific experiments, supplies and food.
The three MPLMs were built by the Italian Space Agency. Construction of the Leonardo module began in April 1996 at the Alenia Aerospazio factory in Turin, Italy. Leonardo was delivered to Kennedy Space Center from Italy in August 1998 by a special Beluga cargo aircraft. Raffaello arrived at Kennedy in August 1999. The third module, named Donatello, was delivered to Kennedy on Feb. 1, 2001.
Of the other two MPLMs, Raffaello has flown three times and Donatello has never flown.
The Italian Space Agency chose the names of the modules because they denote some of the great talents in Italian history:
Leonardo da Vinci, an extraordinary inventor-scientist, civil engineer, architect, artist and military planner and weapons designer
Donato di Niccolo Di Betto Bardi, one of the greatest sculptors of all time and one of the founders of modern sculpture
Raffaello Sanzio, an artist whose work stands alone for its visual achievement of human grandeur, both in clarity of form and ease of composition.
The seven previous missions:
STS-102 mission launched 8 March 2001 – System racks, robotic arm workstations, electrical converters and the U.S. Avionic 3 and a Crew Health Care System rack
STS-105 launched 10 August 2001 – Science racks for the US Destiny lab, stowage racks and platforms
STS-111 launched 5 June 2002 – 8,062 pounds of supplies including a science rack for microgravity, and a glovebox
STS-121 launched 4 July 2006 – food and supplies, a minus 80 degree lab freezer, the European Modular Cultivation System for biology experiments, and the Oxygen Generation System
STS-126 launched 14 November 2008 – 14,000 pounds including two crew quarters racks, the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, two water reclamation racks, a waste and hygiene compartment and a galley
STS-128 launched 28 August 2009 – two research racks, four system racks, seven resupply stowage platforms two resupply stowage racks, one zero stowage rack and an integrated stowage platform
STS-131 launched 5 April 2010 – a third minus 80-degree freezer, a window orbital research facility, a crew quarters rack, a resistive exercise rack and resupply stowage racks and platforms
Leonardo Attached to ISS
Image Credit: NASA TV
Crew of ISS and Discovery in Leonardo
Image Credit: ESA and Crew
Cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko in the Interior of the Leonardo MPLM
Image Credit: NASA