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Submitted by Arthur N1ORC -AMSAT A/C #31468

April 25, 2005, was moving day at NASA's Space Station Processing 
Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The building is the final 
stop for hardware en route to the International Space Station. On this 
day, many of the components are covered with long, silvery sheets of 
fireproof and anti-static plastic as though packed for the trip. All the 
components appear dark from a lack of power. All, that is, but one: the 
gleaming Raffaello.

The day has arrived to lift the 18,000-pound Raffaello module from its 
support scaffolding and gently place it inside the Transportation 
Payload Canister for delivery aboard Space Shuttle Discovery this 
summer. The lights are on in Raffaello's bay, labeled "Footprint 3," and 
technicians clad in powder-blue cleansuits are moving with intention as 
they double-check to ensure the module is ready to go.

Image to right: Raffaello is carefully guided over other ISS modules 
with the help of a crane and technicians holding tight to control ropes. 
The cargo carrier is the last item to be placed in the payload canister. 
Credit: NASA/KSC

"It's just been a marathon for us and we are just about to cross the 
finish line," said Scott Higginbotham, NASA's ISS mission manager. "It's 
been a multi-year effort to get this mission ready, and to see us this 
close to launching is just a wonderful feeling."

Raffaello is officially known as the MPLM, or Multi-Purpose Logistics 
Module. Built by the Italian Space Agency, the cargo container is loaded 
with parts, food and equipment for the ISS. Raffaello will fly to the 
Station on the STS-114 Return to Flight mission. The massive vessel is 
the final piece of hardware to be loaded for the flight, joining two 
other components already inside the Payload Canister.

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