ISS composition

The International Space Station (ISS) - the manned space station, used as a multipurpose space research facility. ISS - a joint international project, involving sixteen countries: Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, USA, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan.

The construction of the ISS began on 20 November, 1998 with the launch of the Functional Cargo Block Zarya. Now, the station consists of the following units:

ELC - an ExPRESS logistics carrier is an unpressurized attached payload platform for the ISS. It comprises four unpressurized platforms fixed at trusses 3 and 4. An ELC provides scientists with a platform and infrastructure for implementation of scientific experiments in vacuum. The platforms provide data processing and transmission of the results of experiments on high-speed channels towards the station.


The first long-term expedition to the ISS began on 31 October, 2000. The crew comprised William Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergey Krikalev. During the 142 days space flight Expedition 1 crew performed wide scope of operations on activation and equipping of the ISS systems, service maintenance operations, and deployment of primary and auxiliary equipment. Service operations for two Progress cargo transfer vehicle were performed. Joint operation program with three visiting crews onboard space shuttle was performed. As a result, station was equipped with P6 truss, Destiny module, more than twenty tons of cargo and equipment were delivered onboard the station for crew life support and further station development. Wide scientific research and experiment program was successfully performed.

International nature of the ISS project promotes collaborative scientific experiments. The most commonly such cooperation is developed by the European (ESA) and Russian Space Agencies.

ISS – the most frequented orbital station in the history of cosmonautics. On 11 October, 2009 there were 260 visits to the station (there were 137 visits to the Mir station during its existence). In total the ISS was visited by 182 cosmonauts and astronauts (Mir station – by 104). On 22 November, 2010 the station has been continuously occupied for 3,641 days, having exceeded the previous record of almost 10 years held on Mir station.

At the beginning of the 2011 the crews of 24 major expeditions and 17 visiting expeditions were trained and then fully performed all planned work programs on the ISS (at the Mir station for the entire 15-year program 28 and 25 expeditions were carried out, respectively). At the Mir station 78 spacewalks were performed. On the end of 2009 at the ISS 112 spacewalks were performed.

In the nearest future the Russian part plans to create a space complex, called OKA-T-ISS in the infrastructure of the ISS, intended for complex solution of tasks in the field of microgravity and applied technological and biotechnological research. The service life period of the complex on orbit is 5 years. Launches of the space systems are scheduled for 2012 and 2015. Frequency of the space complex maintenance should be 2-3 times a year, including repair of technological equipment and systems on board the complex. The modernization of the ISS, and its refueling from board of the orbital station is planned as well.