When astronauts use moving vans, they give them names. Meet Leonardo, a no-wheels transport and space moving van extraordinaire:
The Discovery shuttle crew recently participated in a zero-gravity space move to transfer Leonardo, a 27,000-pound cargo module filled with supplies, from the shuttle to the International Space Station. The initial high-altitude “move” took place while shuttle and station were in orbit 220 miles above the South Pacific.
The 21-foot by 15-foot module was carrying spare parts, equipment, and racks of new science experiments for space station crew members. Included in the payload were a brand-new astronaut bedroom (which will later be converted into a shower unit for the crew) and a sweet contraption that transforms waste hydrogen and carbon dioxide gases into drinking water for the station’s astronauts.
Early in the morning on Thursday, April 8, STS-131 mission specialists Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamakazi used the space station’s robotic arm to ease Leonardo into the station’s berthing port, where other astronauts were eventually able to open the hatch and begin the process of unloading the goods and replacing them with earth-bound trash and broken space station equipment for the shuttle’s return.
Leonardo the Moving Van will be visiting the space station later this year, but it will be a one-way trip. NASA has plans to use the moving module as a permanent storage closet for the crew.