Yesterday, the International Space Station’s PMM (Permanent Multipurpose Module) Leonardo was moved: it used to be connected to the Unity module and was repositioned to be connected to the Tranquillity module. This operation is part of the Station’s extension that in the coming months will prepare the docking hatches for the new American spacecraft that should enter service in 2017.
The PMM, named after Leonardo Da Vinci, was transported to the ISS in 2011 by the Space Shuttle Discovery during its STS-133 mission. Initially it was a MPLM (Multi-Purpose Logistics Module), a pressurized module used for the transport of cargo to the Station, eventually the Leonardo module was modified to be connected to it as a permanent module. It’s primarily used as a warehouse for spare parts, supplies and waste.
The PMM Leonardo’s relocation was performed using the Canadarm2 robotic arm. In this case it wasn’t operated by astronauts on the International Space Station but by the operators at Mission Control, Houston, who worked together with the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters.
It was 9:50 UTC yesterday morning when the PMM Leonardo was disconnected from the Unity module. At that point, its slow relocation started, which has gone on for over three hours. The commander of the International Space Station Terry Virts and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly oversaw its berthing to the Tranquillity module.
Today the PMM Leonardo should be reopened in its new location but at this point it’s a routine task. The next task will be to prepare new dockings for the American spacecraft Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Dragon V2. Two IDAs (International Docking Adapter) will be transported to the Station by the Dragon space freighter version in the coming months as part of the new docking system.
In early March 2015 three spacewalks were carried out as part of the preparation task. It’s a long work that is done one step at a time, each time after careful planning. Eventually, two American cargo spacecraft will be able to be docked with the International Space Station at the same time.
This is an animation of the PMM Leonardo relocation carried out yesterday.
This is a clip that shows images of the actual relocation operation of the PMM Leonardo.