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Putting It All Together

Orbiting at an altitude of 250 miles (400 km), the International Space Station is one of humankind's most advanced and complex space structures. This laboratory in the sky loops Earth approximately every 90 minutes. Check out NASA's Space Station Sightings page at www.nasa.gov to see when the space station will be flying over your city!

Before its scheduled completion in 2015, dozens of flights and thousands of man-hours will be completed and logged, and hundreds of experiments will have been conducted. The space station is a remarkable achievement. It is the result of the hard work and combined efforts of 15 nations and thousands of people -- astronauts to tool-and-die makers and everything in between -- who put it all together to advance our knowledge of space. Check out these factoids and assembly components of the space station!


-- The space station has five international partners: the space agencies of the United States, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan.
-- The first parts of the space station were sent and assembled in orbit in 1998.
-- The building of the space station is like living in a house while building it at the same time.
-- The Integrated Truss Structure is the backbone of the space station and is made up of many triangular structures and beams.
-- Upon the completion of construction, the space station will weigh about 925,000 pounds, which is equivalent to more than 330 automobiles. It will be as long and wide as a football field including the end zones!
-- When fully assembled, the space station will be the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon!

Assembly Components

The launch of the first space station module Zarya signaled the beginning of a new era of international cooperation in space exploration.

Node 1, or Unity, was the first American-built module to arrive at the space station and serves as the foundation for all other U.S. space station modules.

Zvezda is the Russian word for Star. Zvezda served as the early living quarters for the crew. The module serves as the main docking port for Russian Progress cargo and resupply vehicles.

Destiny supports experiments and studies that contribute to the health, safety and quality of life for all of humankind.

This U.S. airlock allows crews to conduct space-station-based spacewalks without a major loss of air from the station.

Also known as DC-1, the Docking Compartment has two primary functions: as a docking port for transport and cargo vehicles, and as an airlock for station crew members using Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Integrated Truss Structure With Canadarm2
The backbone of the space station is this massive structure. It consists of 10 integrated segments, and its total length is equal to that of a football field. The rail cart along the structure serves as the base for the Canadarm2. This robotic arm extends up to 57.7 feet, has seven motorized joints and is an invaluable addition to the space station.

P3 and P4 Truss With Solar Arrays
On Earth, the P3/P4 segment weighs almost 35,000 pounds. It is one of the station's heaviest payloads.

S3 and S4 Truss With Solar Arrays
This expansion on the starboard side of the integrated tress structure comes with a rotator joint that allows the Solar Arrays to rotate.

Named Harmony by school students, this node is the anchor piece for European and Japanese laboratories.

S5 Truss With Solar Arrays
Solar arrays help capture sunlight to generate power and maintain the temperature of the station. Each solar array wing uses nearly 33,000 solar cells.

Columbus Laboratory
Capable of performing all manner of experiments inside the pressurized lab and outside in zero gravity, Columbus is the first international laboratory.

Kibo Laboratory
From Japan comes the largest laboratory for the space station -- Kibo, meaning Hope. Experiments in Kibo will focus on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production and much more.

S6 Truss
The final solar array will be attached to the space station structure in 2010.

Kibo Exterior Platform
The Kibo laboratory is now complete, after the arrival of an exposed platform and the tip for its robotic arm.

Also known as Node 3, Cupola is the last of the connecting Nodes. It will have an 80-cm-diameter circular window that will be the largest window ever built for space. Astronauts will be able to see stunning views of space and of Earth.

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Page Last Updated: May 22nd, 2015
Page Editor: Sandra May