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International Space Station Launches

Artist's conception of the future completed International Space Station Alpha over Earth
Click to enlarge NASA artist concept of completed International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS), with contributions from 16 nations, is the largest and most complex international scientific project ever undertaken.

The major partners and their space agencies are the United States (NASA), Russia (RSA), European Space Agency (ESA), Japan (NASDA), and Canada (CSA).

The Russian-built Zarya control module, the U.S.-built Unity connecting module, and Russia's Zvezda Service Module were the first three major pieces of the station sent to space.

When completed, it will have taken some 45 flights to send everything needed to space. NASA has estimated that 36 American shuttle flights and nine Russian rocket launches would be needed over several years to build the station in orbit by around 2006-2007.

When complete, ISS will have a mass of more than one million pounds (453,000 kilograms) and provide six state-of-the-art laboratories for international research.

The International Space Station orbits Earth at an altitude of 240 statute miles.

Flights Completed Since 1998

Year 1998

The first element. The first section of the station to be lifted to space was Russia's Zarya Control Module, also known as the Functional Cargo Block (FGB). It was launched atop a Russian Proton rocket from Kazahkstan on November 20, 1998, and renamed Zarya, which means "sunrise" in Russian. ISS assembly flight 1 A/R.

The second section. The second element of the station to be flown up was America's Unity Node connecting segment. It was carried by space shuttle Endeavour on flight STS-88 on December 4, 1998. Unity Node -- with one stowage rack and two pressurized mating adapters attached -- is a docking hub where major sections of the space station will join together. Major construction of the station on orbit started when astronauts working outside Endeavour locked Zarya and Unity together. ISS assembly flight 2A.

Year 1999

Logistics flight. Shuttle Discovery mission STS-96 carrying a SPACEHAB module was launched on a logistics flight May 27, 1999. It carried internal logistics and resupply cargo for station outfitting, and an external Russian cargo crane to be mounted on the outside of the Russian station segment and used to perform spacewalking maintenance activities. ISS assembly flight 2A.1.

Year 2000

Maintenance flight. Space shuttle Atlantis carrying a SPACEHAB module was launched May 19, 2000, on maintenance flight STS-101 to the ISS. The astronauts prepared the station for the arrival of the Zvezda Service Module, installed four new batteries, ten new smoke detectors and four new cooling fans on the Zarya module, installed the final parts of the Strela crane on Pressurized Mating Adapter 1, removed and replaced the early communications system antenna, and installed handrails on the Unity Node. Cargo was moved from the shuttle and stored inside the station. ISS assembly flight 2A.2a.

The third element A Russian Proton rocket carrying the Zvezda Service Module lifted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 12, 2000. Zvezda is the third major component of the International Space Station. ISS has been comprised of the Zarya Control Module and the Unity module. Zvezda is the primary Russian station contribution and an early station living quarters. It provides life support system functions to all early elements. It has the primary docking port for Progress cargo resupply vehicles from Russia. Zvezda provides propulsive attitude control and reboost capability for the early station elements -- Zvezda will control the station's attitude in space and boost it to higher altitudes as needed. Zvezda later will become home to the station's first permanent "expedition crew." Zvezda means "star" in Russian. ISS assembly flight 1R.

Supply flight. The Russian Progress cargo vessel flew supply flight ISS-1P on August 6, 2000, on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan. Russia has used its Progress M robot cargo ships to resupply the Mir space station for years. This flight was the first Progress M1 resupply ship to the International Space Station following the launch of the Service Module. The robot cargo ship not only ferried goods and cargo for the Service Module, but also was used to boost the space station to higher altitude. Progress-M remained docked to the Service Module for 73 days.

Logistics flight. Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-106 carrying a SPACEHAB Double Module with an Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) was launched September 8, 2000, to ferry supplies to the station. It carried internal logistics and resupply cargo for station outfitting. The astronauts transfered supplies to outfit the station in preparation for the first resident crew. The mission included two spacewalks to perform maintenance tasks linked to the presence of the Service Module. They connected power and communications cables between the Zvezda Service Module and Zarya Control Module, and installed a magnetometer pole on Zvezda. When mission STS-106 was added to the International Space Station assembly sequence, the assignments originally planned for STS-101 (which flew in May 2000) were split between the two shuttle flights. ISS assembly flight 2A.2b.

Mating adapter truss. Shuttle Discovery, launched on space station assembly flight STS-92 on Oct. 11, 2000, ferried to orbit the Integrated Truss Structure (ITS) Z1 and Pressurized Mating Adapater-3 (PMA-3). ITS-Z1 is an early exterior framework to allow first U.S. solar arrays on later flight 4A to be temporarily installed on Unity for early power. It also carried the Ku-band Communications System and the Control Moment Gyros (CMGs). The ITS-Z1 truss holds the Ku-band and S-band communications systems for transmission to Earth of science data, U.S. television and voice, and station telemetry. It also will hold four the Control Moment Gyros that will aid in station attitude control. The CMGs will provide non-propulsive (electrically powered) attitude control when activated on future flight 5A. The astronauts attached the PMA-3 to Unity's lowest docking port. After that, the truss was mounted to Unity's highest docking port. They installed on the truss boom the S-band antenna, the truss thermal shrouds, and the Ku-band antenna, and connected cables between the truss and Unity and cables between Unity and PMA-3. They deployed the Ku-band antenna and boom. The PMA 3 provides shuttle docking port for solar array installation on future flight 4A and for Lab installation on future flight 5A. ISS assembly flight 3A.

Expedition Crew One. The first expeditionary crew was launched to Earth orbit aboard a Soyuz capsule atop a Russian Soyuz rocket in flight 2R from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan, on Oct. 31, 2000. When they arrived at the space station Nov. 2, 2000, the three-person crew established the first human presence on the space station and began the station's permanent human presence. The crew was composed of: American astronaut Kenneth D. Bowersox was the backup commander for this mission. He was not called on to fly. While the Expedition One crew inhabited the International Space Station, three space shuttle flights visited the station to continue its construction. The first was to be shuttle STS-97 flight 4A, which delivered U.S. Solar arrays to add to the station's power capability. Then, shuttle STS-98 flight 5A was delivered and installed the U.S. laboratory Destiny. The third mission was shuttle STS-102 flight 5A.1, which delivered equipment racks for Destiny and the Expedition Two crew. The Expedition One crew returned to Earth aboard shuttle flight STS-102 landing on March 21, 2001. Their October launch was ISS flight 2R.

Supply flight. A Russian Progress cargo vessel flew supply flight ISS-2P on Nov. 16, 2000, on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan. It arrived at the space station Nov. 18, 2000. Progress was to be undocked from the space station to clear a path for the linkup of shuttle Endeavour flight STS-97 to a docking port on the Unity module on Dec. 2.

Solar array truss. Shuttle Endeavour STS-97 was launched on a station assembly flight Nov. 30, 2000. It ferried to the inhabited International Space Station the P6 Integrated Truss Structure which includes the Photovoltaic Array Assembly, the Integrated Equipment Assembly and the Long Spacer. The space station powers itself by converting solar energy into electrical power. The Photovoltaic Module is the first set of U.S.-provided solar arrays and batteries. P6 converts, generates, stores, regulates and distributes electrical power around the space station. It is the first of eight sets of solar arrays that, when assembly of the station is completed in 2006, will comprise the station's electrical power system converting sunlight to electricity. Endeavour docked at the port installed a month earlier by the STS-92 astronauts. P6 is installed temporarily on the Z1 Truss until after future flight 13A when it will be moved to the P5 truss. Also installed were the S4 and S6 radiators for station cooling. The two radiators provide early cooling, called photovoltaic (PV) Thermal Control System (TCS) radiators. Astronauts also transferred the S-band antenna from Z1 to P6 and installed the antenna for voice and telemetry relay from the station. They activated the S-band communications system for voice and telemetry. With its new P6 solar arrays, the station now is the third brightest object in the night sky. ISS assembly flight 4A.

Year 2001

Destiny Laboratory. Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-98 launched Feb. 7, 2001 ferried the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module to the ISS. Astronauts used the Shuttle's robot arm to attach the lab to the Unity node. Destiny is the second of the U.S. pressurized modules. It was launched with five system racks already installed inside of the module. Three spacewalks were needed to complete the assembly. The addition of the Destiny module expanded the space station's power, life support and attitude control capabilities. The U.S. Laboratory Module is where unprecedented science experiments are performed in the near-zero gravity of space. The aluminum module -- 28 feet in length and 14 feet in diameter -- consists of three cylindrical sections and two endcones with hatches that mated to other station components. A 20-inch-diameter window is located on one side of the center module segment. The Control Moment Gyroscopes were activated with delivery of the electronics in the lab, providing electrically powered attitude control. ISS assembly flight 5A.

Expedition Crew Two and Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module. Shuttle Discovery mission STS-102 was launched March 8, 2001. It transported the second resident crew to the space station and returned the first resident crew to Earth. The Expedition Crew Two was composed of: The STS-102 mission also was a logistics and resupply, and lab outfitting, flight. While at the station, Discovery berthed the 4.5-ton Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module (MPLM) to the ISS. The Leonardo, built by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was the first of three such pressurized modules that serve as the station's "moving vans" carrying laboratory racks filled with equipment, experiments and supplies to and from the station aboard a space shuttle. The unpiloted, reusable logistics modules function as both cargo carrier and space station module when they are flown. Mounted in a shuttle cargo bay for launch and landing, they are berthed to the station using the shuttle's robot arm after the shuttle has docked. While berthed to the space station, racks of equipment are unloaded from the module and then old racks and equipment are loaded into the module for return down to Earth. When loaded for a flight down, a logistics module is detached from the station and placed back into the shuttle cargo bay for the trip home. In the cargo bay, the module is independent of the shuttle cabin. There is no passageway for shuttle crewmembers to travel from the shuttle cabin to the module. In order to function as an attached station module as well as a cargo transport, the logistics modules also include components that provide some life support, fire detection and suppression, electrical distribution and computer functions. The modules also will carry refrigerator freezers for transporting experiment samples and food to and from the station. Although built in Italy, the logistics modules are owned by the U.S. and provided in exchange for Italian research time on the station. ISS assembly flight 5A.1.

Space Station Remote Manipulator Robot Arm and Raffaello Multipurpose Logistics Module. Shuttle Endeavour was launched on mission STS-100 on April 19, 2001. It ferried to the station the Canadian Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), the Italian Multipurpose Logistics Module (MPLM) known as Raffaello, and the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) antenna. Raffaello carries six system racks and two storage racks for the U.S. laboratory. The UHF antenna provides space-to-space communications capability for U.S. space walks. The Canadian SSRMS is the station's mechanical arm, which is needed to perform assembly operations on later flights. ISS assembly flight 6A.

Soyuz Taxi Flight. Soyuz 2 flight launched April 28, 2001. Crew Commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Yuri Baturin, and Space Flight Participant Dennis Tito, an American businessman, delivered a new Soyuz spacecraft to the station for use as an emergency crew return vehicle if necessary. Tito paid $20 million for the flight as the first space tourist. This was the second Soyuz flight to the station, but only the first where the Soyuz crew returned in an older capsule. The first Soyuz flight was not a taxi flight since it delivered the Expedition One crew in November 2000 and the capsule stayed at the station until this first taxi flight arrived. The taxi crew returned to Earth in the old Soyuz vehicle.

Joint Airlock. Shuttle Atlantis was launched on misson STS-104 on July 12, 2001. It carried the Joint Airlock and the High Pressure Gas Assembly for the ISS. The airlock provides station-based extravehicular activity (EVA or spacewalk) capability for U.S. and Russian spacesuits. The high pressure gas assembly also supports space walk operations and augments the Service Module gas resupply system. ISS assembly flight 7A.

Expedition Crew Three and Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Shuttle Discovery flight STS-105 was launched Aug. 10, 2001. It transported the third resident crew to the space station and returned the second resident crew to Earth. The Expedition Crew Three was composed of: The shuttle also carried aloft the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The MPLM had U.S. stowage racks and International Standard Payload Racks (ISPRs). ISS assembly flight 7A.1.

Pirs approaches the International Space Station
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Pirs Docking Compartment. A Russian Soyuz rocket launched Sept. 14, 2001, ferried to orbit the Russian Docking Compartment 1 (DC-1), named Pirs, the Russian word for pier, and the Strela Boom. Attached to the ISS, they provide a Soyuz docking port and an additional entry (egress) and exit (ingress) location for space walks. Pirs approaches the space station in the photo at right, shot by one of the Expedition Three crew members inside the ISS September 16. The astronaut's digital still camera was equipped with a 180mm lens. ISS assembly flight 4R.

Soyuz Taxi Flight. Soyuz 3 flight launched Oct. 21, 2001. Crew Commander Victor Afanasyev, Flight Engineer Konstantin Kozeev, and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Claudie Haignere delivered a new Soyuz spacecraft to the station for use as an emergency crew return vehicle. Haignere's flight was paid for by CNES, the French Space Agency, under a commercial contract with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. The taxi crew returned to Earth in the old Soyuz vehicle. This was the third Soyuz flight to the station, but only the second where the Soyuz crew returned in an older capsule. The first Soyuz flight was not a taxi flight since it delivered the Expedition One crew in November 2000 and the capsule stayed at the station until the first taxi flight arrived six months later.

First Anniversary. A year of human residency of the International Space Station

Expedition Crew Four and Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-108, the 12th shuttle mission to visit the ISS, was launched Dec. 5, 2001. The shuttle delivered the ISS Expedition Four crew for a five-month stay: Endeavour also carried aloft Italy's Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, as well as Photovoltaic Module batteries. The delivery to orbit provided for research work by delivering experiment racks for the U.S. Laboratory and two storage racks. Raffaello was loaded with supplies and experiments for the station. Endeavour returned the Expedition Three crew to Earth after almost four months on station. ISS assembly flight UF-1.

6,000 Flags. Remembering the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy

Year 2002

Integrated Truss Structure Starboard and Mobile Transporter. Shuttle Atlantis flight STS-110, the 13th shuttle mission to visit the ISS, was launched April 8, 2002. Astronaut Jerry L. Ross made a world record seventh flight to orbit. The shuttle carried aloft the Integrated Truss Structure S0. It is the center segment of the 300-foot station truss, attached to the U.S. Lab. The S0 truss segment is the first major element of the station's enormous exterior framework. It is 44 feet long, 15 feet wide, and weighs 27,000 lbs. SO truss is the center segment of 11 trusses that will hold station subsystem hardware and external payloads as well as allow for utility distribution, power generation, and heat rejection. The S0 truss is the junction from where external utilities are routed through umbilical cords to the pressurized modules where humans live and work. The Mobile Transporter (MT) is a movable base that allows the station's Canadian mechanical arm to travel along the station truss. The 1,950-lb. MT travels along the rails of the Integrated Truss Structure. The transporter is 108 inches long, 103 inches wide and 38 inches high. After the Mobile Base System (MBS) is installed on the MT during flight STS-111, the Canadarm2 will be able to move from the U.S. Destiny Laboratory Module and travel the length of the Integrated Truss Structure. STS-110 also delivered the Trailing Umbilical System, the Portable Work Platform, four Global Positioning System antennas, two rate gyros, an Extravehicular Charged Particle Detection System. umbilicals for U.S. on-orbit elements, four Main Bus Switching Units, two Circuit Interrupt Devices, three Crew and Equipment Translation Aid lights, and the Airlock Spur. ISS assembly flight 8A.

Soyuz Taxi Flight. Soyuz 4 flight launched April 25, 2002. Crew Commander Yuri Gidzenko, Flight Engineer Roberto Vittori, and Space Flight Participant Mark Shuttleworth delivered a new Soyuz spacecraft to the station for use as an emergency crew return vehicle. Shuttleworth of South Africa paid $20 million for the flight as the second space tourist. After eight days, the taxi crew returned to Earth in the old Soyuz vehicle. This was the fourth Soyuz flight to the station, but only the third where the Soyuz crew returned in an older capsule. The first Soyuz flight was not a taxi flight since it delivered the Expedition One crew in November 2000 and the capsule stayed at the station until the first taxi flight arrived six months later.

Expedition 5 Crew and Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-111, the 14th shuttle mission to visit the ISS, was launched June 5, 2002. Endeavour delivered the Expedition 5 Crew and the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM). The crew took three spacewalks to install the Mobile Base System onto the station's Mobile Transporter and to replace the wrist roll joint on the station's robot arm, Canadarm2. The Expedition 5 crew members delivered to the station were: The Expedition 4 crew members were returned to Earth. ISS assembly flight UF2.

Integrated Truss Segment S-One. Shuttle Atlantis flight STS-112, the 15th shuttle mission to visit the ISS, was launched Oct. 7, 2002. The shuttle delivered the ITS S1 Truss and attached it to the S0 Truss' starboard side during three spacewalks. The S1 is the third component of the 11-piece Integrated Truss Structure delivered to the station and will allow for the outward expansion of the station. The truss contains an external cooling system; an S-Band communications system to extend voice and data capability; a cart that serves as a mobile work platform for future spacewalkers; two new external television cameras; and the first Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint, which will provide the mechanical and electrical energy for rotating the station's heat-rejecting radiators as needed. ISS assembly flight (9A)/BA.

ITS P1 Truss Segment and Crew and CETA Cart B Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-113, the 16th shuttle mission to visit the ISS, was launched Nov. 23, 2002. The shuttle ferried the Expedition Six crew up to the station along with the Port 1 (P1) Integrated Truss Segment (ITS) and attached it to the port side of the S0 Truss. P1 carries and reject heat as required by the station's active thermal control system. Endeavour also delivered the and Crew and Equipment Translation AID (CETA) Cart B. The Expedition 6 crew members delivered were: The Expedition 5 crew members were returned to Earth. ISS assembly flight 11A.

Year 2003

Shuttle Columbia disaster. Columbia was launched to orbit Jan. 16, 2003. Sixteen days later, on Feb. 1, 2003, the shuttle was returning from that rare shuttle flight not related to the ISS when it broke up 200,000 feet over Texas. All seven astronauts on board were lost. NASA grounded shuttle flights indefinitely while a commission worked to determine the cause of the accident. That seriously delayed further ISS construction.

Lost with Columbia were commander Rick D. Husband; pilot William C. McCool; payload commander Michael P. Anderson; mission specialists David M. Brown; Kalpana Chawla; and Laurel Clark; and Israel's first astronaut, payload specialist Ilan Ramon.
[More on the Columbia tragedy]

Expedition 7 Crew. Soyuz TMA-2 was launched on a taxi flight on April 26, 2003. Crew Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Science Officer Ed Lu delivered themselves to the station in a new Soyuz, TMA-2, to become the Expedition 7 crew. They were the first two-person ISS crew and the first primary crew to travel to the space station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. By reducing the crew from three to two, ISS supplies were to last longer. The reduced crew maintained systems aboard the station, made repairs as needed, and carried on the science experiments. Further construction of the station was postponed. Soyuz TMA-2 remained docked with the station as their lifeboat during their six-month ISS tour to October 2003.

The Expedition 6 crew – Kenneth Bowersox, Donald Pettit and Nikolai Budarin – retuned to Earth in Soyuz TMA-1, which had been docked with the ISS as their lifeboat.

With space shuttles still not flying at the end of Expedition 7's time in space in October 2003, Malenchenko and Lu will use their Soyuz TMA-2 capsule to return to Earth after they are replaced by the Expedition 8 crew.

Expedition 8 Crew. The Expedition 8 crew of American astronaut commander Michael Foale and Russian cosmonaut flight engineer Alexander Kaleri were launched October 18, 2003, in Soyuz TMA-3 to the space station. At the time of the Columbia tragedy, Foale had been training to be commander of the Expedition 8 crew. Kaleri was to have been the third member of the Expedition 7 crew. Soyuz TMA-3 will remain docked with the ISS as the station lifeboat during Foale and Kaleri's time on station.

Taxi crews. European Space Agency astronauts Pedro Duque of Spain and Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands had been training to fly as part of three-person Soyuz taxi flight crews. They would stay only a week on the station before returning to Earth. Their flights were delayed by the Columbia tragedy.

Duque flew in the third seat of the Soyuz TMA-3 launched October 18 to ferry the Expedition 8 crew to the ISS. After a week, Duque will fly back down to Earth in Soyuz TMA-2 with the Expedition 7 crew.

Kuipers will follow the same rotation six months later, flying up with the Expedition 9 crew in Soyuz TMA-4 in April 2004, and returning to Earth with the departing Expedition 8 crew in Soyuz TMA-3.

Year 2004

Resuming shuttle flights. The U.S. space shuttle fleet is not expected to return to flight until Fall 2004 at the earliest.

When it does fly, STS-114 will include commander Eileen Collins, pilot James Kelly and mission specialists Stephen Robinson and Soichi Noguchi of NASDA, the Japanese space agency. That shuttle crew will be accompanied by three astronauts and cosmonauts who will be a fresh Expedition crew replacing an ISS Expedition crew.

Coming flights. Future flights by Russian rockets, and American shuttles when space station construction flights resume, will be required to take up more truss structures, radiators, crew and equipment translation aid (CETA) carts, spares pallet, solar arrays and batteries, a Russian Science Power Platform with four solar arrays, and new expeditionary crews.

Future ISS Crew Plans

Expedition 7 crew members
Soyuz flight TMA-2 Expedition 8 crew members
Soyuz TMA-3 Expedition 9 crew members
Soyuz TMA-4 Individual crew members with these assignments may or may not change when shuttle flights resume.

Future Launches to ISS Through 2006

Schedule of future assembly launches for International Space Station Alpha

NASA space shuttle launch schedule


First Anniversary of Human Residency of the International Space Station

6,000 Flags -- Remembering the Sept. 11, 2001, Tragedy

Seven Astronauts Lost in the Shuttle Columbia Tragedy

Past Flights

STO:    Flights Completed    Future Flights    Future Crews

NASA:    Mission Archive    Mission Chronology    Mission Summaries

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