Status Report

“Donatello” Multipurpose Logistics Module Arrives at KSC

By SpaceRef Editor
February 2, 2001
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The Italian Space Agency’s “Donatello” Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
(MPLM), the third of three for the International Space Station, arrived at
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) late Thursday, Feb. 1. It was transported to the
United States by a special Airbus “Beluga” air cargo plane from the factory
of Alenia Aerospazio in Turin, Italy. Today it is being offloaded from the
Beluga and transported to KSC’s Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF).

The Donatello MPLM, one of Italy’s major contributions to the International
Space Station program, is a reusable logistics carrier. These logistics
modules are the primary delivery system used to resupply and return Station
cargo requiring a pressurized environment. The cylindrical module is
approximately 21 feet long, 15 feet in diameter and weighs almost 4.5 tons,
excluding up to 20,000 pounds of contents.

Launched in the Space Shuttle’s payload bay, it will contain supplies,
science experiments, spare parts and components for the International Space
Station. Once on orbit, it will be removed from the payload bay and docked
to the Station using the remote manipulator arm of either the Shuttle or the
Station. During each MPLM mission, supplies and scientific experiments are
exchanged for items to be returned to earth including completed experiments,
equipment for repair, or trash and recyclables.

The Donatello, Raffaello, Leonardo logistics modules are processed by NASA
with engineering support from the Italian Space Agency, Alenia Aerospazio
and Boeing. Among the activities for the payload test team to prepare the
module for launch are: integrated electrical tests with other Station
elements in the SSPF, leak tests, electrical and software compatibility
tests with the Space Shuttle using the Cargo Integrated Test Equipment
(CITE), and an Interface Verification Test (IVT) once the module is
installed in the Space Shuttle’s payload bay at the launch pad.

The most significant mechanical task to be performed on Donatello in the
SSPF is the installation and outfitting of the racks for carrying the
various experiments and cargo. Donatello provides interfaces for up to 16
racks, five of which also furnish power, data and fluid support to a
refrigerator freezer. The racks will be installed into the module using an
efficient piece of robotic equipment called the “Rack Insertion Device
(RID).” The RID was developed by Kennedy Space Center engineers for fast and
easy installation and removal of the racks for rapid turnaround of the
logistics module between missions.

The first of the three MPLM’s, “Leonardo” arrived at KSC on Aug. 3, 1998
and will be launched in March on mission STS-102. Raffaello, the second
module, arrived on Aug. 2, 1999 and will be launched in April on mission
STS-100. Donatello will be launched on mission STS-130, currently planned
for September 2004.

SpaceRef staff editor.