International Space Station

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A rearward view of the International Space Station backdropped by the limb of the Earth. In view are the station's four large, gold-coloured solar array wings, two on either side of the station, mounted to a central truss structure. Further along the truss are six large, white radiators, three next to each pair of arrays. In between the solar arrays and radiators is a cluster of pressurised modules arranged in an elongated T shape, also attached to the truss. A set of blue solar arrays are mounted to the module at the aft end of the cluster.
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The components of the ISS in an exploded diagram, with modules on-orbit highlighted in orange, and those still awaiting launch in blue or pink


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Sunrise at Zvezda
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Fisheye view of several labs
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CubeSats are deployed by the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer attached to the end of the Japanese robotic arm

Scientific research

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Comet Lovejoy photographed by Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank
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Expedition 8 Commander and Science Officer Michael Foale conducts an inspection of the Microgravity Science Glovebox


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A comparison between the combustion of a candle on Earth (left) and in a microgravity environment, such as that found on the ISS (right)
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ISS crew member storing samples


A 3D plan of the Russia-based MARS-500 complex, used for ground-based experiments which complement ISS-based preparations for a manned mission to Mars

Education and cultural outreach

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Japan's Kounotori 4 berthing
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Original Jules Verne manuscripts displayed by crew inside Jules Verne ATV


Partially constructed ISS in December 2002
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S3-S4 Truss Installed in 2007
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Soyuz TMA-19 departs in 2010
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ISS in 2007, with fewer solar arrays
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Aft view showing a Progress spacecraft docked to Zvezda
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The Cupola arrived in 2010

Station structure

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Russian Orbital Segment Windows
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USOS International Space Station window locations


Pressurised modules


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Zarya as seen by Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-88


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Unity as pictured by Space Shuttle Endeavour



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Destiny interior in 2001


Pirs and Poisk


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Harmony node in 2011
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Tranquility node in 2011



Columbus module in 2008


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Not large enough for crew using spacesuits, the airlock on Kibō has a sliding drawer for external experiments.
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Pressurized Module

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Experiment Logistics Module

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Exposed Facility

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Experiment Logistics Module

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Remote Manipulator System


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The Cupola's design has been compared to the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.
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Dmitri Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli in the Cupola. Background left to right, Progress M-09M, Soyuz TMA-20, the Leonardo module and HTV-2.



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Leonardo installed

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module

Scheduled additional modules


Uzlovoy Module

NanoRacks Airlock Module

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The cancelled Habitation module under construction in 1997

Cancelled components

Unpressurised elements

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ISS Truss Components breakdown showing Trusses and all ORUs in situ
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Construction of the Integrated Truss Structure over New Zealand.

Robotic arms and cargo cranes

Commander Volkov stands on Pirs with his back to the Soyuz whilst operating the manual Strela crane holding photographer Kononenko. Zarya is seen to the left and Zvezda across the bottom of the image.
Dextre, like many of the station's experiments and robotic arms, can be operated from Earth and perform tasks while the crew sleeps.

Station systems

Life support

Atmospheric control systems

The interactions between the components of the ISS Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS)

Power and thermal control

Russian solar arrays, backlit by sunset.
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One of the eight truss mounted pairs of USOS solar arrays
ISS External Active Thermal Control System (EATCS) diagram

Communications and computers

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The communications systems used by the ISS
* Luch satellite and the Space Shuttle are not currently in use
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Laptop computers surround the Canadarm2 console.

Station operations

Expeditions and private flights

Zarya and Unity were entered for the first time on 10 December 1998.
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Soyuz TM-31 being prepared to bring the first resident crew to the station in October 2000
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ISS was slowly assembled over a decade of spaceflights and crews
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Expeditions have included male and female crew-members from many nations


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Graph showing the changing altitude of the ISS from November 1998 until January 2009
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Animation of ISS orbit from a North American geostationary point of view (sped up 1800 times)
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Orbits of the ISS, shown in April 2013


Mission controls

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Space centres involved with the ISS programme


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Spare parts are called ORUs; some are externally stored on pallets called ELCs and ESPs.
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While anchored on the end of the OBSS during STS-120, astronaut Scott Parazynski performs makeshift repairs to a US solar array which damaged itself when unfolding.
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Mike Hopkins on his Christmas Eve spacewalk

Fleet operations

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ISS orbit with calendar of expeditions and modules through 2014
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Dragon and Cygnus cargo vessels were docked at the ISS together for the first time in April 2016.

Currently docked/berthed

Scheduled missions


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The Progress M-14M resupply vehicle as it approaches the ISS in 2012. Over 50 unpiloted Progress spacecraft have been sent with supplies during the lifetime of the station.
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Space Shuttle Endeavour, ATV-2, Soyuz TMA-21 and Progress M-10M docked to the ISS, as seen from the departing Soyuz TMA-20

Launch and docking windows

Life aboard

Crew activities

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Crewmember peers out of a window


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The crews of STS-127 and Expedition 20 enjoy a meal inside Unity.


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Space toilet in the Zvezda service module

Crew health and safety


Video of the Aurora Australis taken by the crew of Expedition 28 on an ascending pass from south of Madagascar to just north of Australia over the Indian Ocean.


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Cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin at work inside Zvezda service module crew quarters


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Astronaut Frank De Winne is attached to the TVIS treadmill with bungee cords aboard the International Space Station

Microbiological environmental hazards

Threat of orbital debris

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A 7 g object (shown in centre) shot at 7 km/s (23,000 ft/s), the orbital velocity of the ISS, made this 15 cm (5.9 in) crater in a solid block of aluminium.
Radar-trackable objects, including debris, with distinct ring of geostationary satellites
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Example of risk management: A NASA model showing areas at high risk from impact for the International Space Station.

End of mission

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Many ISS resupply spacecraft have already undergone atmospheric re-entry, such as Jules Verne ATV

International co-operation

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Dated 29 January 1998

Sightings from Earth

The ISS and HTV photographed using a telescope-mounted camera by Ralf Vandebergh
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A time exposure of a station pass

Naked eye


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