These are any of three re-usable pressurized modules used to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
The MPLMs are cylinders approximately 6.4 m long and 4.6 m in diameter. Each MPLM is carried in the space shuttle cargo bay and then docked to the ISS by the robotic arm of the shuttle or the ISS. After exchange of cargo, the MPLM is detached from the station and re-positioned in the shuttle's cargo bay for return to Earth. The three MPLMs were built by the Italian Space Agency in exchange for Italian access to research time on the ISS. They are named Leonardo, Raffaello, and Donatello after famous Italians of the past. Leonardo was the first to be launched, on shuttle mission STS-102 in March 2001. Raffaello had its first flight in April 2001 aboard STS-100. Donatello had not flown by the time of the space shuttle accident in February 2003.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.