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11 moments from the International Space Station’s first 20 years


It was November 20, 1998, when an unprecedented worldwide coalition of astronomers, engineers and rocket scientists noticed years of collaboration come to fruition with the launch of the Worldwide House Station’s first element. Since then, the biggest spacecraft ever constructed has hosted innumerable astronauts, experiments and different craft. Listed below are a couple of notable moments within the historical past of this inspiring and decades-spanning mission.

1984: Reagan proposes the ISS — with out Russia

The house station was initially going to be a U.S. effort, however quickly grew to become a collaboration with Canada, Japan and Europe, excluding the then-USSR. American-Russian relations had been strained then, as it’s possible you’ll keep in mind, and though many within the house business itself would have most well-liked working collectively, the political local weather didn’t allow it. However, preliminary work started.

1993: Clinton provides Russia to the invoice

The collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent rejuvenation of worldwide relations led President Bush to carry them into this system in a restricted vogue, as a provider and as a visitor on a shuttle mission. The following 12 months, nonetheless, President Clinton one-upped him with the announcement that Russia can be a full accomplice. This was each a sensible and political choice: Russian involvement would save billions, but it surely additionally helped carry Russia on board with different points, like ICBM de-proliferation efforts. At any charge, designs had been lastly starting to be constructed.

1998: The primary parts, Zarya and Unity, launch to orbit

Endeavour approaches Zarya when the latter was the one element in place.

Although persona non grata at first, Russia had the privilege of launching the primary core element of the ISS on November 20, 1998, the anniversary we’re celebrating at present. The Zarya Purposeful Cargo Block continues to be up there, nonetheless getting used, forming the gateway to the Russian aspect of the station.

One month later, House Shuttle Endeavour took off from Launch Complicated 39A (we’ve been there) carrying Unity Node 1. This too is up there now, hooked up since that day to Zarya.

2000: The primary of many long-term occupants arrive

From left: Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev, aboard the station.

Virtually precisely a 12 months after Zarya went up, the primary astronauts took up residence on the ISS — the primary of 230 folks to this point to name the orbiting construction house. Invoice Shepherd was NASA’s first consultant, flying with cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev; they might keep for about 141 days.

2003: Columbia catastrophe delays growth

The deadly breakup of House Shuttle Columbia on reentry following its 28th mission was tragedy sufficient that different shuttle missions had been scrubbed for over two years. As these had been the first technique of the U.S. including to and sustaining the ISS, this duty handed to Roscosmos till shuttle launches resumed in 2005; crewed launches wouldn’t resume till mid-2006.

2007: Kibo goes up

Quite a few modules have been added to the ISS over time, however Japan’s Kibo is the biggest. It took a number of missions to ship all of the items, and was solely made doable by earlier missions that had expanded the solar energy capability of the station. Kibo accommodates a ton of reconfigurable house accessible from the pressurized inside, and has been standard for each non-public and public experiments that have to be carried out in house.

2010: Enter the Cupola

If Kibo is the biggest element, the Cupola is probably going essentially the most well-known. The enormous 7-window bubble seems like one thing out of science fiction (particularly, the entrance finish of the Millennium Falcon) and is the situation for the station’s most placing pictures, each in and out.

2014: Lovely timelapses