2011

Final touches

By 2011, all the station’s main habitable components have been installed, as well as its full array of power cells. The station relies mainly on Russian Soyuz capsules to receive new supplies and crews.

Columbus

The European laboratory module has a projected life span of 10 years and is the biggest contribution of the E.U. to the station.

Kibo

The Japanese pressurized module is Japan’s first human space facility. The orbital laboratory consists of two pressurized modules, an exposed facility for experiments in the vacuum of space, and its own robotic arm.

Robonaut 2

A humanoid robotic torso designed to assist the crew during spacewalks with the manipulation of small pieces of hardware.

2008

The last pieces

Following the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, construction of the station is halted. The assembly of the station resumes in 2006. By 2008, most of the main components of the space outpost are in place.

Harmony

A vital connecting corridor between the research laboratories of the station: Destiny (U.S.), Columbus (European Union) and Kibo (Japan). Harmony is installed in the space station in 2007, ahead of the aggregation of the Japanese and European modules.

Integrated truss structure (ITS)

The backbone of the space station, the truss is divided into 12 segments with the designation S and P (starboard and port). The ITS holds the majority of the solar cells that provide power to the station, with a total surface of 38,000 square feet, the equivalent of eight basketball courts. The truss is the longest man-made structure ever put in space.

Solar cells

Each solar array wing (SAW) contains two retractable structures, each 115 feet long, with a mast in between them. Each wing uses nearly 33,000 cells. The eight wings generate a total of 84 kilowatts.

2002

Rapid growth

Four years after its first component was put into orbit, the station is capable of sustaining a permanent crew of three and has its first research module, the U.S. laboratory known as Destiny.

Destiny

The primary research facility for U.S. experiments and the first permanent operating orbital research station since Skylab in 1974. Built by Boeing, this 16-ton laboratory is attached to the station in 2001.

Zvezda (Star)

Installed in July 2000, Russia’s service module provides the station’s first living and lab quarters.

1998

Fully energized

The first module of the international space station is the Russian-built Functional Cargo Block, also known as Zarya (Sunrise). This component gives the space outpost its initial power, storage and propulsion capabilities

Zarya (Dawn)

Originally designed as a module for the Russian space station Mir. The module has three docking points and plays a vital role during the early stages of the station’s assembly.

2011

Final touches

By 2011, all the station’s main habitable components have been installed, as well as its full array of power cells. The station relies mainly on Russian Soyuz capsules to receive new supplies and crews.

Columbus

The European laboratory module has a projected life span of 10 years and is the biggest contribution of the E.U. to the station.

Kibo

The Japanese pressurized module is Japan’s first human space facility. The orbital laboratory consists of two pressurized modules, an exposed facility for experiments in the vacuum of space, and its own robotic arm.

Robonaut 2

A humanoid robotic torso designed to assist the crew during spacewalks with the manipulation of small pieces of hardware.

2008

The last pieces

Following the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, construction of the station is halted. The assembly of the station resumes in 2006. By 2008, most of the main components of the space outpost are in place.

Harmony

A vital connecting corridor between the research laboratories of the station: Destiny (U.S.), Columbus (European Union) and Kibo (Japan). Harmony is installed in the space station in 2007, ahead of the aggregation of the Japanese and European modules.

Integrated truss structure (ITS)

The backbone of the space station, the truss is divided into 12 segments with the designation S and P (starboard and port). The ITS holds the majority of the solar cells that provide power to the station, with a total surface of 38,000 square feet, the equivalent of eight basketball courts. The truss is the longest man-made structure ever put in space.

Solar cells

Each solar array wing (SAW) contains two retractable structures, each 115 feet long, with a mast in between them. Each wing uses nearly 33,000 cells. The eight wings generate a total of 84 kilowatts.

2002

Rapid growth

Four years after its first component was put into orbit, the station is capable of sustaining a permanent crew of three and has its first research module, the U.S. laboratory known as Destiny.

Destiny

The primary research facility for U.S. experiments and the first permanent operating orbital research station since Skylab in 1974. Built by Boeing, this 16-ton laboratory is attached to the station in 2001.

Zvezda (Star)

Installed in July 2000, Russia’s service module provides the station’s first living and lab quarters.

1998

Fully energized

The first module of the international space station is the Russian-built Functional Cargo Block, also known as Zarya (Sunrise). This component gives the space outpost its initial power, storage and propulsion capabilities.

Zarya (Dawn)

Originally designed as a module for the Russian space station Mir. The module has three docking points and plays a vital role during the early stages of the station’s assembly.

Major milestones

Oct. 20, 1998

A Russian Proton rocket launches the first module of the station: Zarya (Sunrise).

Dec. 4, 1998

Unity, the first U.S.-built component of the station, launches with the first space shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the outpost.

Oct. 2, 2000

Astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev become the first crew members aboard the station. They stay in space for several months.

Nov. 30, 2000

The P6 truss is installed. This component includes the first piece of the main solar-cell array that powers the station.

Feb. 7, 2001

Destiny, the U.S. laboratory module, becomes part of the station. Destiny is still the primary research facility for U.S. payloads.

April 19, 2001

Canadarm2, the station's robotic arm, is added. The robotic system plays a key role in the assembly of the station.

April 8, 2002

The central segment of the station truss, S0, is installed on top of Destiny.

Feb. 1, 2003

The space shuttle Columbia disintegrates during atmospheric reentry. The construction of the station is halted.

Construction halted: 2003 - 2006

During the space shuttle moratorium (2003 to 2006) and after the end of the program, the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TMA became the main transport to the station. The capsule has more than 47 years of service with the same basic design.

July 26, 2006

The space shuttle Discovery returns to the station after three years. The mission delivers supplies to the station and tests safety procedures.

Feb. 7, 2008

The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis delivers and installs the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory.

March 15, 2009

The space shuttle Discovery delivers the station's final major U.S. truss segment, S6, and its final pair of power-generating solar array wings.

Nov. 2, 2010

The station celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its continuous human occupation. Since Expedition 1 in the fall of 2000, 202 people have visited the station.

Feb. 24, 2011

The space shuttle Discovery launches on its final planned mission to deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, Leonardo, and Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the international space station, as well as equipment and supplies. Among the cargo aboard Leonardo was Robonaut 2, a robot that could be a precursor of new humanoid remote devices to help during spacewalks.