Tim Furniss/LONDON

The first of three Italian Space Agency reusable Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM) destined for the International Space Station (ISS), has now arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The MPLM 1 is scheduled to be carried on the Space Shuttle STS 100/Endeavour in December 1999. Two other MPLMs will be launched in March and April 2000.

ISS assembly begins on 20 November this year with the launch of the Russia Zarya control module, followed on 3 December by the launch of US Node 1, Unity.

The Alenia Aerospazio-built MPLM 1 will be the first European module to arrive at the ISS, well ahead of the European Space Agency's Columbus Orbital Facility, which will not be attached to the station until 2002.

The MPLMs are 4.5m in diameter and 6.5m long and, when attached to the ISS, provide pressurised space for two crewmembers, and about 10,000kg of payload. The payload is accommodated in 16 tiltable and removable racks, of which five can be powered to allow transportation of conditioned cargo. This means that the MPLM will be the only ISS module to be pressurised and active during flight aboard the Space Shuttle.

Source: Flight International