Finally NASA has announced what has been trailled here at Flightglobal.com and Hyperbola for some time, with one twist. rather than the MPLM Raffaello becoming the PMM, it is now the module Leonardo
You can watch here NASA ISS programme manager Michael Suffredini talk about what it would take for this permanent module Shuttle mission. Incredibly NASA originally rejected this idea despite the clear gap in station spares and supplies once Space Shuttle is retired. Now the final Shuttle flight, STS-133/Discovery, will be an assembly mission adding more capability to the outpost and increasing its international contribution
NASA AND ITALIAN SPACE AGENCY FIND NEW USE FOR MODULE
WASHINGTON -- NASA and the Italian Space Agency announced a new use for an existing Multi Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) known as "Leonardo." It will be transformed into a Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) for the International Space Station.
For nearly a decade, the Italian-built logistic modules have flown inside the payload bays of NASA's shuttle fleet, successfully delivering vital hardware and supplies to the station. The new use for this proven carrier will enhance the use of the station.
Leonardo will undergo modifications to ensure safe, long-term operation as the PMM, and to increase the amount of mass it can carry to orbit. The supply-laden PMM will be flown aboard shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in September and attached to the station.
The added space within the PMM will enable efficient positioning of experiments throughout the station complex. Inside the PMM, experiments in fluid physics, materials science, biology, biotechnology and other microgravity experiments may be conducted.