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Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) en route to International Space Station


Built by Thales Alenia Space, the module will remain in orbit as an integral part of the ISS

Cannes - The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) developed by Thales Alenia Space was successfully launched yesterday at 4:50 pm local time (10:50 in France and Italy), from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It was launched by the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-133, and will be docked permanently to the International Space Station.

Derived from Leonardo, one of three Multipurpose Logistics Modules (MPLM), the new Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was developed on behalf of the Italian space agency (ASI), with Thales Alenia Space Italy as the lead contractor. The Leonardo MPLM has already flown seven Shuttle missions, primarily carrying scientific equipment and supplies for the astronauts. The development of the Permanent Multipurpose Module is the result of an intensive effort at Thales Alenia Space’s Turin plant, involving both modifications and testing. The PMM will retain its “logistics" role, but above all it will remain in orbit as an integral part of the International Space Station for ten years, providing additional space for the crew and other uses.

“Thales Alenia Space rose to meet the challenge of the PMM mission, by leveraging the broad range of skills and expertise we have built up over the years,” said Luigi Pasquali, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia. “At the same time, it confirmed the validity of the original MPLM flexible design concept, showing that it could be easily adapted to other applications.”

Working with NASA, Thales Alenia Space also provided support services during final testing and launch preparation of the PMM. Support operations will continue throughout the mission via the Altec Center, a joint venture formed by Thales Alenia Space, ASI and state-owned companies in the Piedmont region of Italy.

The conversion of the MPLM to the PMM configuration, based on an agreement between ASI and NASA and performed by Thales Alenia Space Italy, involved three major modifications:

* The first and most extensive change was revamping the PMM to be able to stay in orbit for ten years, exposed to the demanding space environment. Its Micrometeorite Debris Protection system was enhanced, and all components and subsystems were recertified.
* The module’s interior was made more user-friendly to enhance equipment accessibility for crew members; the PMM will also host fluid mechanics, material science, biology and biotechnology experiments.
* The module’s weight was reduced as much as possible by eliminating unnecessary hardware for the long-duration stay in orbit, so that it could carry additional cargo on the STS-133 mission.

The official ceremony marking the conversion of the Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module (MPLM) into a Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) and its transfer of ownership from Italian space agency ASI to American counterpart NASA, was held on September 9, 2010, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Thales Alenia Space is a major contributor of the International Space Station by building 50% of the pressurized modules, that is the living space. For the ATV2 recently launched from Kourou and successfully docked to the station yesterday, the company is responsible for the design and manufacturing of the ATV’s Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC). and passive thermal control system.

About Thales Alenia Space
European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company, which achieved revenues of Euro 2 billion in 2009, has a total of 7,200 employees located in 9 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.


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