Space Station (ISS) represents a global partnership
of sixteen nations. This project is an engineering, scientific and technological
marvel ushering in a new era of human space exploration. The million-pound
space station will include six laboratories and provide more space for
research than any spacecraft ever built. Internal volume of the space
station will be roughly equal to the passenger cabin volume of a 747 jumbo
More than 40 space flights over five years and at least three space vehicles—the space shuttle, the Russian Soyuz rocket and the Russian Proton rocket—will deliver the various ISS components to Earth orbit. Assembly of the more than 100 components will require a combination of human spacewalks and robot technologies.
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Three flights have already occurred, beginning the ISS era. The first flight was a Russian Proton rocket that lifted off in November 1998 and placed the Zarya module in orbit. In early December of that same year, the STS-88 mission saw the Shuttle Endeavour attach the Unity module to Zarya initiating the first ISS assembly sequence. The third ISS mission was STS-96 in June 1999 with Discovery supplying the two modules with tools and cranes.
The United States and Russia have partnered together since 1994, performing nine Shuttle-Mir dockings. That experience provided valuable insight and team work necessary for building and maintaining the ISS. Consequently, the first crew to inhabit the space station will be two Russians and one American. They will fly aboard a Soyuz capsule, dock with the ISS and spend five months in space.
When the ISS is completed, an international crew of up to seven will live and work in space between three and six months. Crew return vehicles will always be attached to the space station to ensure the safe return of all crew members in the event of an emergency.
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