The construction of the International Space Station was approved in 1984, first by then US President Ronald Reagan and then by the US Congress along with his budget. Various elements of the ISS were designed between 1984 and 1993 and built by the United States, Canada, Japan and European countries in the late 1980s.
The ISS, whose pieces were built one at a time like a Lego set, was assembled in space by complex robotic systems and people in spacesuits.
Russia was also invited to participate in the redesigned ISS in 1993. Construction of the first parts of the ISS began in 1998, and work continues in international partnership with five space agencies from 15 countries. The first reusable spacecraft were also developed by the USA during this time. The main construction of the ISS was essentially completed between 1998 and 2011.
The date of permanent stay at the station was November 2000. The first crew to stay on the ISS on November 2, 2000 went down in history as NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd, cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. The purpose of their four-month mission was to complete the tasks necessary to maintain life on the ISS.
The ISS, which is not used by just one country, is considered a “joint program” between Europe, the USA, Russia, Canada and Japan. The ISS was created with contributions from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) .
Control centers are located in the USA and Russia
The main mission control centers are located in the United States and Russia, with several auxiliary control centers in Canada, Japan and Europe.
The station consists of an area larger than the 6-room house, with 6 sleeping compartments, 2 bathrooms, a gym and a round window that offers a 360 degree view. In addition, living spaces and laboratories are among the modules within the ISS.
There were 42 assembly flights for the large modules and other parts of the ISS, 37 with US spacecraft and 5 with Russian Proton/Soyuz rockets.
Crew of 7 people
An international crew of 7 people lives and works on the station, moving at a speed of about 8 kilometers per second. More than 7 people can be on the station during crew change times.
The 7-member Expedition 70 team, currently on the ISS and launching its mission on September 27, 2023, includes Andreas Mogensen, Jasmin Moghbeli, Furukawa Satoshi, Loral O’Hara, Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.
The ISS orbits the Earth 16 times a day
The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. This means that the ISS orbits the Earth 16 times in 24 hours and experiences sunset and sunrise 16 times.
Astronauts and cosmonauts regularly conduct spacewalks for the construction, development and maintenance of the ISS, which travels the equivalent distance to the Moon and back in about a day.
The ISS, which is one meter shorter than an American football field including its end zones, is 109 meters long and weighs about 420 tons.
The ISS is in orbit about 402 kilometers above Earth and is four times the size of the Russian Mir space station and five times the size of the US Skylab.
Around 13 kilometers of cables connect the entire power grid on the ISS. The Canadarm2 robot, which has seven different joints and two end actuators or arms, is used to move all modules, conduct scientific experiments and even transport astronauts on spacewalks.
More than 1.5 million lines of flight software code run on 44 computers and communicate over 100 data networks that transmit 400,000 signals in the US portion of the ISS alone, where the systems are controlled by more than 50 computers.
While eight solar panels per hectare on the station provide 75 to 90 kilowatts of electricity, the water recycling system on the ISS reduces the crew’s dependence on water brought by the cargo spacecraft to 65 percent.
Spacecraft docks with the ISS
There are two different docking ports on the ISS, suitable for Russian and European spacecraft as well as US spacecraft. In cases where the spacecraft cannot reach the docking compartment independently, the ISS’s robotic arm comes into play.
Thanks to the docking mechanism, designed for large, 100-ton spacecraft, the spacecraft is pushed toward the ISS and pulled by the mechanism, like a railroad car being hitched to a locomotive.
Astronauts, who are usually used as pilots during missions, ensure that spacecraft dock with the ISS and establish the connection between the vehicle and the station. This is how astronauts move to the ISS and, after completing their mission, can separate the spacecraft from the ISS and successfully return to Earth.
The number of spacecraft that can dock with the ISS at the same time is 8, and these vehicles can reach the ISS 4 hours after the launch process on Earth.