Leonardo, Raffaello, Donnatello
The exotic experiments of countless scientists will rocket to the International Space Station and back in modules built by Italians and borne by the Space Shuttle.
The Italian Space Agency delivered the first of three "Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules" to NASA, the Modules' owner, in August, 1998. Named Leonardo, it was launched in 1999 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour.
While traveling in the Shuttle's cargo bay, the Module is inaccessible to the crew. This fact is especially important to scientists and others who want to minimize the number of variables affecting their experiments while in transit.
The second Module, Raffaello, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in 1999. Donnatello was delivered in early 2001.
The Italian Space Agency named the Modules after Italian figures of enormous historical significance in science and the arts: Leonardo, for Leonardo da Vinci, the extraordinary 16th-century artist, architect, engineer and scientist; Raffaello, for the 16th-century artist Raphaello Sanzio, the legendary Raphael; Donatello, for Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, the 15th-century artist considered to be the founder of modern sculpture. Leonardo will be accompanied by Canada's Mobile Servicing System on its first flight to the ISS.