The station was designed between 1984 and 1993. Elements of the station were in construction throughout the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe beginning in the late 1980s.
The International Space Station Program brings together international flight crews, multiple launch vehicles, globally distributed launch and flight operations, training, engineering, and development facilities, communications networks, and the international scientific research community.
Backdropped by Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space, the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-130 crew member as space shuttle Endeavour and the station approach each other during rendezvous and docking activities. Docking occurred at 11:06 p.m. (CST) on Feb. 9, 2010, delivering the Tranquility node and its Cupola.
On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.
Station Assembly Elements
Explore the International Space Station.
We are driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further.
The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking. NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev executed a fly around of the orbiting laboratory to take pictures of the station before returning home after spending 197 days in space. The station will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first element Zarya in November 2018.
The International Space Station Program’s greatest accomplishment is as much a human achievement as it is a technological one—how best to plan, coordinate, and monitor the varied activities of many organizations and operations.
An international partnership of space agencies provides and operates the elements of the space station. The principals are the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada.
Backdropped by a cloud-covered part of Earth, the International Space Station is seen from Space Shuttle Endeavour as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation. Earlier the STS-126 and Expedition 18 crews concluded 11 days, 16 hours and 46 minutes of cooperative work onboard the shuttle and station. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 8:47 a.m. (CST) on Nov. 28, 2008.
Facts and Figures
Explore quick facts about the International Space Station.
Learn more about the international collaboration, missions, research, and technology that make the space station a unique place.
In this photo, Astronaut David A. Wolf, STS-112 mission specialist, anchored to a foot restraint on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) or Canadarm2, carries the Starboard One (S1) outboard nadir external camera.
Over 260 individuals representing 20 countries and five International Partners have visited the International Space Station.
Learn more about the people from around the world who have visited the station.
Astronaut Christopher Cassidy waves during a spacewalk on the International Space Station.
Station Record Holders
NASA astronauts often spend extended periods of time aboard the International Space Station.
NASA tracks and publishes the single spaceflight record holders (the most days spent in space on a single mission) and the cumulative days in space record holders (combined time in space over an astronaut’s career).
Astronaut Susan Helms works outside the International Space Station while attached to the Canadarm robotic arm on the Space Shuttle Discovery during a spacewalks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the orbital complex.
Launched in 1998 and involving the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan, and the participating countries of the European Space Agency — the International Space Station is one of the most complex international collaborations ever attempted.
Since the first crew’s arrival aboard over twenty years ago, the International Space Station has evolved into a state-of-the-art scientific lab.
Stay up-to-date with the latest content from NASA as we explore the universe and discover more about our home planet.
ESA, JAXA, Roscosmos, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX, each have launched their own space freighters to resupply the International Space Station. NASA, Roscosmos, SpaceX, and Boeing have also launched their own crew ships to the orbital outpost.
There have been 259 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998.
STEM Resources and Opportunities
Explore hands-on activities, interactive, lesson plans, educator guides, and other downloadable content about the International Space Station.
ISS National Laboratory
In an effort to expand the research opportunities of this unparalleled platform, the space station was designated as a U.S. National Laboratory in 2005 by Congress, enabling space research and development access to a broad range of commercial, academic, and government users.