Sunday, May 24, 2015

ISS Re-configuration Clears the Way for Commercial Crew Vehicles

The Permanent Mulipurpose Module(PMM) aboard the International Space Station has been successfully reconfigured to a different location aboard the orbiting complex, thus clearing the way for the future arrival of US Commercial Crew spacecraft.

Flight controllers in Mission Control in Houston detached the PMM from the Earth-facing port of the laboratory's Unity module using the station's robot arm, Canadarm2. It was then berthed a few hours later to the forward facing hatch of the Tranquility module at 2:08 p.m. Central European Time.
The relocation of the PMM from Node 1 to Node 3
Credit: NASA

Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts and Scott Kelly of NASA were supervising proceedings from inside the station itself during the reconfiguration.

The PMM, nicknamed Leonardo, built by the Italian Space Agency was launched to the station on the final flight of space shuttle Discovery in February 2011. Since then it has been docked to the Earth-facing port of Unity serving as a supply depot for the crew living and working aboard the ISS. The PMM is 22 feet long, 14 feet in diameter and weighs almost 11 tons. It has an internal volume of more than 2,400 cubic feet.

This move was necessary to clear the Earth-facing port of Unity so that it could be used as a back up docking port for visiting cargo vehicles in the future. In the meantime, a pair of International Docking Adapters(IDA) are poised to launch aboard a SpaceX Dragon later on this year. The two IDAs will be installed on the station's Pressurised Mating Adapters to facilitate the docking of US Commercial Crew vehicles being built by SpaceX and Boeing.

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