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Noded as part of the Spacecraft Information Database Project -- Created 11/6/00

International Space Station (International)


Alternate Designations: ISS, Space Station Alpha, Freedom
Major Contractors: NASA, Russian Space Agency, NASDA, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency
Nation of Origin: None; shared international project
Used By: USA, Russian Federation, European Union, Japan, Canada, Brazil
Number in Use: 1
Launch Sites: Baikoner Cosomodrome (Russian Federation), Kennedy Space Center (USA)
Project Status: Under Construction
Expected Date of Completion: April 2006


Note: Figures given are for the completed station.
Length: 88.4 meters (290 feet)
Height: 43.6 meters (143 feet)
Wingspan: 108.5 meters (356 feet)
Volume: 1303 cubic meters (43,000 cubic feet)
Weight: ~ 1 Million pounds


Crew: 7
Mission Duration: ~ 25 Years
Orbital Altitude: 220 Miles


The International Space Station is a joint product of the American, Japanese, Russian, Brazillian and European Union governments, intended to be a peaceful platform for scientific experiments and a jumping-off point for possible manned missions to the Moon and Mars. The project was begun in May of 1982 when NASA announced a task force dedicated to the design and development of a space station project to follow the Space Transportation System. This space station was intended to be born of international cooperation between the European Space Agency, the Japanese government, Canada and the United States.

In 1984, President Reagan gave the go-ahead for ISS construction to begin in his January 1984 State of the Union address: "Our next large target is to develop a new frontier based on the pioneer spirit. I command our nation to construct a permanent manned space station within ten years." Unfortunately, the United States failed to carry out his instructions in time, and assembly of the ISS in orbit did not begin for another fifteen years. Reagan also called for international cooperation on the project. In 1985, Japan and Canada officially agreed to participate.

In 1993, after several budget cutbacks and minor redesigns of the ISS, Russia joined the ISS program and American President Bill Clinton, along with the US Congress, demanded that NASA redesign the space station from the ground up, to reduce strain on the federal budget and increase international cooperation. Several possible designs for the ISS were proposed; in the end the proposal designated "Alpha" was selected.

Construction continued in the various participating nations, but orbital assembley of the station was delayed, largely due to funding problems for the Russian-provided modules. Finally, the Russian Federation launched the first module of the International Space Station atop a Proton-class expendable launch vehicle on November 20, 1998 CE. The first module, designated Zarya by the Russian government, provides living quarters and station-keeping thrusters for the space station during its assembly phase. Unfortunately, the Zarya module has been plagued with malfunctions, most of which were not resolved until the first permanent station crew arrived on October 30, 2000 CE.

Now that assembly has finally begun, and the station now has its first crew, the project will not be proxmired prior to completion. Hopefully, the International Space Station will provide not just a facility for learning about the universe, but a springboard for further exploration.

Credits and Further Reading

For more information, read:
  • NASA's official International Space Station website ( (Hard data was obtained here)

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