International Space Station
A foreward view of the International Space Station backdropped by the limb of the Earth. In view are the station's four large, maroon-coloured solar array wings, two on either side of the station, mounted to a central truss structure. Further along the truss are six large, white radiators, three next to each pair of arrays. In between the solar arrays and radiators is a cluster of pressurised modules arranged in an elongated T shape, also attached to the truss. A set of blue solar arrays are mounted to the module at the aft end of the cluster.
The International Space Station on 23 May 2010, as seen from STS-132
ISS emblem.png
Logo of the International Space Station
Station statistics
COSPAR ID1998-067A
SATCAT no.25544
Call signAlpha, Station
CrewFully crewed: 6
Currently aboard: 3
(Expedition 64)
Launch20 November 1998; 21 years ago (1998-11-20)
Launch pad
Mass419,725 tons[convert: unknown unit][1]
Length73.0 m (239.4 ft)[1]
Width109.0 m (357.5 ft)[1]
Pressurised volume915.6 m3 (32,333 cu ft)[1]
Atmospheric pressure101.3 kPa (14.7 psi; 1.0 atm)
oxygen 21%, nitrogen 79%
Perigee altitude408 km (253.5 mi) AMSL[2]
Apogee altitude410 km (254.8 mi) AMSL[2]
Orbital inclination51.64° [2]
Orbital speed7.66 km/s [2]
(27,600 km/h; 17,100 mph)
Orbital period92.68 minutes [2]
Orbits per day15.54 [2]
Orbit epoch14 May 2019 13:09:29 UTC [2]
Days in orbit21 years, 11 months, 18 days
(8 November 2020)
Days occupied20 years, 5 days
(8 November 2020)
No. of orbits116,178 as of May 2019[2]
Orbital decay2 km/month
Statistics as of 9 March 2011
(unless noted otherwise)
References: [1][2][3][4][5]
The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).[6][7] The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.[8] The station serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific research is conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.[9][10][11] The ISS is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.[12]

The ISS programme evolved from the Space Station Freedom, an American proposal which was conceived in 1984 to construct a permanently crewed Earth-orbiting station,[13] and the contemporaneous Soviet/Russian Mir-2 proposal with similar aims. The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations and the U.S. Skylab. It is the largest artificial object in space and the largest satellite in low Earth orbit, regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth's surface.[14][15] It maintains an orbit with an average altitude of 400 kilometres (250 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda Service Module or visiting spacecraft.[16] The ISS circles the Earth in roughly 93 minutes, completing 15.5 orbits per day.[17]

The station is divided into two sections: the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS), operated by Russia; and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations. Roscosmos has endorsed the continued operation of ROS through 2024,[18] having previously proposed using elements of the segment to construct a new Russian space station called OPSEK.[19] The first ISS component was launched in 1998, and the first long-term residents arrived on 2 November 2000.[20] The station has since been continuously occupied for 20 years and 6 days,[21] the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, having surpassed the previous record of 9 years and 357 days held by the Mir space station. The latest major pressurised module, Leonardo, was fitted in 2011 and an experimental inflatable space habitat was added in 2016. Development and assembly of the station continues, with several major new Russian elements scheduled for launch starting in 2020. As of December 2018, the station is expected to operate until 2030.[22]

The ISS consists of pressurised habitation modules, structural trusses, photovoltaic solar arrays, thermal radiators, docking ports, experiment bays and robotic arms. Major ISS modules have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and US Space Shuttles.[23] The station is serviced by a variety of visiting spacecraft: the Russian Soyuz and Progress, the U.S. Dragon and Cygnus, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle,[6] and, formerly, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle. The Dragon spacecraft allows the return of pressurised cargo to Earth, which is used, for example, to repatriate scientific experiments for further analysis. As of September 2019, 239 astronauts, cosmonauts, and space tourists from 19 different nations have visited the space station, many of them multiple times. This includes 151 Americans, 47 Russians, nine Japanese, eight Canadians, five Italians, four French, three Germans, and one each from Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.[24]