Fascinating facts about the international space station

Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station
Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station
Fascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space StationFascinating Facts About the International Space Station
Check out our amazing space and astronomy facts for kids. Learn about different space objects and enjoy a range of cool trivia. Fun ISS Facts for Kids Check out these fun International Space Station (ISS) facts for kids. Enjoy a range of interesting facts about the International Space Station, how many astronauts have been to the station, how big the ISS is, how long the ISS has been in orbit around Earth for, what is the station used for and much more.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a habitable human-made satellite that orbits Earth at an altitude of between 330 km (205mi) and 435 km (270 mi).
  • The ISS comprises pressurised modules for astronauts to live in, external trusses for propulsion, solar arrays for power and many other amazing components.
  • The first part of the ISS sent to space was the module called Zarya. It was launched into space on a Russian Proton rocket on November 20th, 1998. Zarya provided propulsion, attitude control, communications and electrical power.
  • Two weeks later, NASA launched a module called Unity aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, successfully attaching it to the Zarya module. The Unity module was equipped with all the requirements for long-term human living.
  • The ISS is now the largest artificial body in orbit. It is 357 ft (109 m) in length, making the space station's area span about the size of an American football field.
  • The space station weighs nearly 925,000 pounds (419,500 kg's).
  • The ISS has 2 bathrooms, a gym and more room than a 6 bedroom house.
  • The space station is nearly 4 times bigger than the Russian space station Mir and about 5 times as large as the U.S. Skylab.
  • The ISS was built to be a space environment research laboratory and observatory, where crew members could conduct experiments in many scientific fields including: biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, and meteorology.
  • The station also provides valuable opportunities to test spacecraft systems and equipment and act as a staging base for possible missions to the Moon or Mars.
  • Approximately 3.3 million lines of computer code on the ground supports over 1.8 million lines of flight software code for the ISS.
  • Over eight miles of wire connects the electrical power system on the ISS.
  • The first ISS crew mission called 'Expedition 1' launched on a Russian Soyuz, October 31, 2000. The 3 Russian cosmonauts docked and entered the ISS on November 2nd, 2000. The space station has been continuously occupied since, making it the longest continuous human presence in space.
  • The ISS has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations. There has been a total of 352 flights to the ISS, by 211 individual people, 31 of these were women, and 7 were 'space tourists' (as of 2013).
  • As of 2013, 76 people have visited the ISS on two occasions, 25 people have made three trips to the station and amazingly 5 people have been four times.
  • As of 2013, there has been 174 spacewalks outside the modules in support of the ISS's construction and maintenance, that's almost 1,100 hours (nearly 46 days).
  • There's been 38 expeditions to the ISS as of 2013. An expedition can last up to six months. Early expeditions had 3 person crews, this was reduced to 2 person crews for safety, however today crew numbers regularly reach 6 people.
  • On average the ISS travels at 27,724 kilometres (17,227 mi) per hour.
  • The space station completes 15.5 orbits a day, which means the crew members on board the station experience a sunrise or sunset every 92 minutes.
  • The ISS programme is a joint project that involves 5 space agencies. NASA, of USA, Roskosmos of Russia, JAXA of Japan, CSA of Canada and ESA made up of agencies from France, Brazil, Malaysia, South Korea and Italy.
  • The Cupola module in the ISS has a 7 window observatory area which has been compared to the 'turret' of the Millennium Falcon in the movie Star Wars. 
  • The ISS is arguably the most expensive single item ever built. As of 2010, the cost of the station is believed to be $150 billion.
  • With the naked eye, the ISS can be seen from nearly every area of Earth at some point in time, it appears as a slow moving bright white dot in the night sky.
  • For more information about how astronauts do everyday tasks in zero gravity on the ISS, see our amazing Astronauts Videos page!

International Space Station: 15 Facts for 15 Years in Orbit

A new type of “sunrise” dawned above Earth on Nov. 20, 1998, with the launch of the first piece of the International Space Station.

Fifteen years ago Wednesday (Nov. 20), the Russian-built Zarya, or “Sunrise,” module, also known as the functional cargo block (FGB), lifted off atop a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin the most complex scientific and engineering project in history.

Zarya supported orientation control, communications and electrical power for the emerging outpost. Two weeks after its launch, Zarya was joined on orbit by Unity, the station's first connecting node. [Building the International Space Station (Photos)]

It would take 13 years for the space station's assembly to be declared “complete,” although it is still being expanded. Today, the station is an active laboratory with hundreds of science experiments being conducted onboard, advancing humanity's knowledge about how to live in space and how to improve life on Earth.

To mark the 15th anniversary, SPACE.com partner collectSPACE.com compiled a countdown of 15 facts about the International Space Station.

15 Sunrises, sunsets

Circling Earth at 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) every 92 minutes, the crew members aboard the International Space Station “experience 15 or 16 sunrises and sunsets every day,” NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Office describes.

“The whole station glows with the light of dawn,” Canadian astronaut and former ISS commander Chris Hadfield told NPR in a recent interview. “You can see the dawn come across the world towards you.”

“Then you go back to work and wait another 92 minutes, and it happens again. It's not to be missed, and I tried to watch as many sunrises and sunsets as the work would allow,” he said.

  • Since the launch of the first “Sunrise” (Zarya), the station has “seen” more than 175,000 sunrises and sunsets.
  • 14 Rooms
  • The space station today has more livable room than a six-bedroom house — spread across 14 pressurized modules or components.

There are three laboratories — the U.S. Destiny module, European Columbus module and Japan's Kibo lab — and three connecting nodes (Unity, Harmony and Tranquility). On the Russian side, there are two docking compartments (Pirs and Rassvet), the Zarya FBG and Zvezda service module. [15 Years of Space Station Science and Construction (Video)]

Quest serves as the U.S. operating segment's airlock and the Leonardo permanent multipurpose module (PMM) acts as a closet for storage space. The Kibo module also has its own supply closet (the “JLP”) and lastly is the Cupola, a seven-windowed observatory.

The space station's internal volume is about the same as a Boeing 747 jumbo jetliner.

13 Years of continuous residency

It took two years of construction before the space station was ready for tenants. The three-member Expedition One crew, NASA astronaut William Shepard and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, arrived at the orbiting outpost on Nov. 2, 2000, and the space station has been continuously occupied ever since.

Initially, the station's crew was limited to three people, and for a period of time, that was reduced to only two. Today, the Expedition 38 crew has six members.

Over the past 4,766 days (as of Nov. 20), 88 people have lived aboard the space station as resident crew members, with another 120 or so people visiting the orbiting outpost to help with construction and deliver supplies.

12 Months for the first yearlong mission

To date, the longest expedition on board the International Space Station was 215 days and 8 hours, logged by the Expedition 14 crew of Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin from September 2006 to April 2007. Their seven months in space was one and a half months longer than the typical resident crew's stay, which averages about five and a half months in duration.

But as attention turns to sending astronauts out into the solar system, NASA and its international partners are now preparing for the first yearlong stay on the space station.

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Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station

Beginning in March 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko will live and work on the orbiting complex for 12 months. Their stay will further inform scientists' understanding of how the human body reacts to extended exposure to microgravity.

11 Hundred hours spacewalking

Earlier this month, two cosmonauts ventured outside the space station to mount a camera platform and perform a symbolic relay holding an Olympic torch. It was the 174th spacewalk in the space station's history, bringing the total time spent on ISS extravehicular activities (EVA) to 1,094 hours and 39 minutes, or 45.6 days.

“I remember pre-ISS talking about the hundreds, or more than one hundred, EVAs that are going to be required for assembly [of the space station] and thinking that was a huge mountain to climb,” ISS Expedition 16 astronaut Dan Tani said in December 2007 after completing the station's 100th spacewalk.

One hundred and thirteen (113) expedition crew members have donned either U.S. EMU or Russian Orlan suits to work on assembling and maintaining the space station.

10 Space agencies sending astronauts

Fifteen nations partnered to build the International Space Station — the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and members of the European Space Agency (ESA) — but the people who have visited the ISS have not been limited to those countries.

In addition to NASA, Roscosmos, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Canadian Space Agency and ESA, astronauts have visited the outpost representing five other space agencies, including France's CNES, Brazil's AEB, Malaysia's Angkasa, South Korea's KARI and Italy's ASI.

9 Hundred, 25 thousand pounds in orbit

When Zarya launched in 1998, it weighed 42,600 pounds (19,300 kg). A decade and a half later, the International Space Station now masses almost one million pounds — 925,000 pounds (420,000 kg).

The station is the largest spacecraft ever assembled or flown in space, spanning the length and width of an U.S. football field.

Fascinating Facts About the International Space StationView inside the space station flight control room at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Displayed on the front screen, images celebrating the International Space Station's 15 years. (Image credit: NASA)

8 Space tourist flights

Not every individual to fly to the station did so under the auspices of a country or space agency. Seven so-called “space tourists,” or “spaceflight participants,” funded their own multimillion dollar trips to the space station under an agreement with Roscosmos and the U.S. space tourism agency Space Adventures. [The International Space Station: Inside and Out (Infographic)]

California businessman Dennis Tito was the first to pay his own way to the station in 2001.

Following Tito into orbit were South African software developer Mark Shuttleworth, New Jersey entrepreneur Gregory Olsen, Iranian-American engineer Ahousheh Ansari, Hungarian-American Microsoft Office inventor Charles Simonyi, second-generation U.S. astronaut and computer game pioneer Richard Garriott and Canadian Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberte.

  1. Simonyi enjoyed his first space trip in 2007 so much that he returned for another flight two years later.
  2. 7 Visiting vehicles
  3. Zarya's launch began the effort, but it wasn't until NASA's space shuttle delivered and mated the Unity module that the International Space Station was really born.

Fascinating Facts About the International Space StationThis NASA infographic outlines the major features and accomplishments of the International Space Station during its first 15 years in space. The image was released to mark the station's 15th birthday on Nov. 20, 2013. (Image credit: NASA/Gary Daines)

The shuttle fleet was critical to the assembly of the space station, delivering to orbit the truss segments that formed the outpost's backbone, as well as most of the modules. When the ISS was completed, the orbiters were retired.

Six other spacecraft have and continue to supply and staff the station.

Since Expedition 1 in 2000, Russia's Soyuz has been the primary means for astronauts and cosmonauts to travel to and from the outpost. Similarly, the station's primary cargo craft has been Russia's unmanned Progress craft, which on Nov. 25 will lift off for the 53rd flight to the station.

JAXA's H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) and ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) have each resupplied the station four times to date.

Most recently, NASA has contracted with U.S. companies SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to send cargo to the space station on their Dragon and Cygnus vehicles, respectively. Moving forward, the U.S. space agency is also planning to hire private spacecraft to fly its astronauts to and from the space station, with flights starting in 2017.

6 Sleep stations

Although the space station is often compared (including in this article) to the volume of a six-bedroom house, the ISS does not include traditional bedrooms for its resident crew. Rather, six phone-booth-size pods serve as sleep stations and private space for each astronaut and cosmonaut.

“Originally, they were going to put us all in one habitation module with sleep stations all around it, but the way the station was eventually built, we have sleep stations inside [Unity] Node 2, which is in the forward part of the station, and inside the service module, which is in the aft,” Chris Hadfield described in a video he filmed about sleeping in space.

“Inside each one is just a sleeping bag tied to the wall. You might think it's uncomfortable not having a mattress and a pillow but without gravity, you don't need anything to hold you up. You can just completely relax and you don't even need a pillow,” said Hadfield.

Continue the countdown at collectSPACE.com to read the remaining five facts about the International Space Station’s first 15 years in orbit.

Fun ISS Facts for Kids

The International Space Station, more commonly known as the ISS is what we are going to learn about.

The ISS is the ‘International’ Space Station, which means that the space station is an international project. The ISS is not the first space station. There have been others, however what is special about the ISS is that the project is a multi national effort by a number of nations. These nations are listed below.

Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station

The space station is an artificial satellite, which means it orbits the Earth from space. The moon is an example of a natural satellite, and the difference is that the artificial satellite is man made.

Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station

The ISS was built in many stages and has been a joint effort by all the countries involved since it was launched way back in 1998. So the ISS has already been in orbit of a number of years.

The station is serviced by spacecraft from many of the participating countries. The station can carry up to 6 crew members and most of the time the station has a full crew.

So, what purpose does the ISS serve and why was the ISS built?

The purpose of the ISS is to act as a laboratory that constantly orbits the Earth in space. The station conducts many tests and experiments for the different space agencies and will also play an important role in in future missions to the moon, Mars and other places in the solar system.

The cost to build and maintain the station is very expensive, and is one of the most if not the most expensive things ever constructed.

The crew of the ISS spend most of their days on the station working on projects, with some free time for themselves in their quarters. Its not easy to eat, drink, sleep or do anything else really on the station, however there are good systems in place for the crew to manage.

The ISS is a wonderful man made creation, and its vital for future space exploration.

Kids Fun Facts Corner

# 1. The crew on the ISS can see the sun rise and set 16 times per day.

# 2. The ISS was founded and created by 14 different nations.

# 3. The ISS orbits earth every 90 minutes.

# 4. The ISS can be tracked for its position on the NASA website.

Q&A Corner

Q. What is the ISS?

Q. What does the ISS stand for?

Q. How many crew members can the ISS hold?

Q. What year was the ISS launched?

Q. How many nations are involved in the ISS?

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Download questions about the ISS here: ISS (answers are on this page)

Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on the ISS. Click on Kidskonnect. Worksheets

For further reading and more information on the ISS visit  www.kidskonnect.com/ISS

Key Vocabulary
Space. Solar System. Earth. Station. Exploration. Orbits.

Tour of the space station

International Space Station Fun Facts – Online Star Register

– 21 Apr 2017

How easy is it for you to brush your teeth in the morning? Can you easily wash your face? What if the water coming from your faucet started to float? These are some of the things that the astronauts on the International Space Station deal with on their mission. Read on to learn more about the International Space Station.

The International Space Station serves as a scientific laboratory in space. Each day that passes scientists and astronauts learn more about living in space, eating in space, and space’s effects on the human body. We have listed below many interesting facts about the International Space Station.


The International Space Station travels in orbit around Earth at a speed of roughly 17,150 miles per hour (that’s about 5 miles per second!). This means that the Space Station orbits Earth (and sees a sunrise) once every 92 minutes! It Orbits the Earth 16 Times a Day.

  • The ISS is prograde meaning it travels in the direction of the Earth’s rotation.

The average distance in miles above Earth’s surface the ISS orbits is 250 kilometers. On a clear day, the ISS is easily visible to the naked eye from the ground.


The International Space Station is a co-operative program between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada, and Japan for the joint development, operation and utilization of a permanently inhabited Space Station in low Earth orbit

Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station



There are three people permanently on the station, and the crew that rotates out periodically.

When the shuttle goes up, it carries up to seven additional people so they can have as many as ten at a time when the shuttle is there.

And when Russian ship goes up, usually there are two people aboard, so there are either three, five or ten people on the station. It is permanently manned at a level of three.

  2. The ISS missions, called expeditions, usually last about six months.

Astronauts aboard the ISS incinerate their dirty laundry through atmospheric reentry. ISS astronauts are instructed to wear their underwear for up to a week before changing to a clean pair.

Of course, the temperature-controlled atmosphere of the ISS is much cleaner than Earth’s, and the lack of gravity means clothes don’t stick to their bodies as much.

But astronauts do have to exercise frequently to prevent muscle atrophy.


International Space Station Fast Facts

  • (CNN)Here's a look at the International Space Station (ISS), a spacecraft built by a partnership of 16 nations.
  • The 16 nations are the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  • Information on ISS crews and expeditions can be found here.

The ISS includes three main modules connected by nodes: the US Laboratory Module Destiny, the European Research Laboratory Columbus, and the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo (Hope). Each was launched separately and connected in space by astronauts.

  1. Mass: 925,335 pounds (419,725 kilograms)
  2. Habitable Volume: 13,696 cubic feet (388 cubic meters)
  3. Solar Array Length: 239.4 feet (73 meters)
  4. As of January 2020, there have been 227 spacewalks conducted for station assembly and maintenance.

In May 2016, the space station marked its 100,000th orbit of the Earth. It orbits Earth 16 times a day.


  • November 1998 – A Russian Proton rocket places the first piece, the Zarya module, in orbit.
  • December 1998 – The space shuttle Endeavour crew, on the STS-88 mission, attaches the Unity module to Zarya initiating the first ISS assembly sequence.
  • June 1999 – The space shuttle Discovery crew, on mission STS-96, supplies two modules with tools and cranes.
  • July 2000 – Zvezda, the fifth flight, docks with the ISS to become the third major component of the station.
  • November 2000 – The first permanent crew, Expedition One, arrives at the station.
  • November/December 2000 – The space shuttle Endeavour crew, on mission STS-97, installs the first set of US solar arrays on the station and visits Expedition One.
  • February 2001 – Mission STS-98 delivers the US Destiny Laboratory Module.

March 2001 – STS-102 delivers Expedition Two to the station and brings Expedition One home. The crew also brings Leonardo, the first Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, to the station.

September 16, 2001 – The Russian Docking Compartment, Pirs, arrives at the ISS.

June 2002 – STS-111 delivers the Expedition Five crew and brings the Expedition Four crew home. The crew also brings the Mobile Base System to the orbital outpost.

December 2002 – STS-113 delivers the Expedition Six crew and the P1 Truss.

May 3, 2003 – Expedition Six crew return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-1. Crew members Kenneth Bowersox and Don Pettit are the first American astronauts ever to land in a Soyuz spacecraft.

July 29, 2003 – Marks the 1,000th consecutive day of people living and working aboard the International Space Station (this is a record for the station, but not for space).

August 10, 2003 – Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko marries his fiancée Ekaterina Dmitriev from space. The bride and groom exchange vows over a hotline set up for the event. Dmitriev stands next to a life-sized picture of Malenchenko.

April 22, 2004 – The second of four gyroscopes that stabilize the orbiting outpost of the ISS fails. NASA officials say this does not pose an immediate threat to the crew. An extra spacewalk will have to be conducted to the fix the electrical component box thought to be at fault.

November 2, 2005 – Fifth anniversary of continuous human presence in space on the International Space Station.

February 3, 2006 – SuitSat-1, an unmanned space suit containing a radio transmitter, batteries, and internal sensors to monitor battery power and temperature, is deployed as a part of an International Space Station spacewalk.

The suit is supposed to transmit recorded messages in six languages to school children and amateur radio operators for several days before re-entering Earth's atmosphere and burning up, but it goes silent shortly after its deployment.

March 31, 2006 – Arriving with the crew of Expedition Thirteen is Marcos Pontes, the first Brazilian astronaut. Staying eight days, Pontes conducts scientific experiments before returning to Earth with the crew of Expedition Twelve.

July 7, 2006 – The arrival of Thomas Reiter of Germany via the Space Shuttle Discovery returns the station's long-duration crew to three for the first time since May 2003 and the Columbia shuttle disaster. Reiter is the first non-US and non-Russian long-duration station crewmember, and he remains onboard during the first part of Expedition Fourteen.

September 9, 2006 – Space Shuttle Atlantis docks with the International Space Station, delivering the P3/P4 truss and its solar wings before undocking September 21 and returning to Earth.

September 20, 2006 – Arriving with the crew of Expedition Fourteen is Anousheh Ansari, an American businesswoman. She spends about eight days conducting experiments and blogging about her experiences before returning to Earth with two of the three members of Expedition Thirteen.

December 2006 – Arrival of Flight Engineer Sunita Williams via space shuttle mission STS-116. Williams replaces Reiter, who returns to Earth with the crew of STS-116.

April 7, 2007 – Charles Simonyi becomes the fifth space tourist when he accompanies the Expedition Fifteen crew to the ISS. He spends 12 days aboard the space station before returning to Earth with the crew of Expedition Fourteen.

June 10, 2007 – Space Shuttle Atlantis docks with the ISS to install a new segment and solar panel on the space station and retrieve astronaut Williams, who has been at the space station since December. Williams is replaced by Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, who will return to earth aboard Discovery on Mission STS-120.

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June 15, 2007 – Four days after ISS's computers crash, two Russian cosmonauts bring them back online. The computers control the station's orientation as well as oxygen production. The crew used Atlantis' thrusters to help maintain the station's position while its computers were down.

October 25, 2007 – Space Shuttle Discovery docks with ISS.

In the days while docked with the ISS, the Discovery crew delivers and connects Harmony to the ISS, a living and working compartment that will also serve as the docking port for Japanese and European Union laboratories.

Discovery and ISS crew also move an ISS solar array to prepare for future ISS expansion, planning a special spacewalk to repair damage to the solar array that occurred during its unfurling.

November 14, 2007 – ISS crew move the Harmony node from its temporary location on the Unity node to its permanent location attached to Destiny.

February 9, 2008 – Space Shuttle Atlantis arrives. Its crew delivers the European-made Columbus laboratory, a 23-foot long module that will be home to a variety of science experiments. Atlantis remains docked with the ISS for just under nine days.

March 9, 2008 – “Jules Verne,” the first of a series of European space vessels designed to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, launches from the Ariane Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guiana.

The vessels, called Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV), are propelled into space atop an Ariane 5 rocket, and are designed to dock with the ISS with no human assistance.

The Jules Verne will wait to dock with the ISS until after Space Shuttle Endeavour's March mission is completed.

March 12, 2008 – Space Shuttle Endeavour docks with the ISS.

March 24, 2008 – Endeavour detaches from the ISS. While docked, crew members make five spacewalks to deliver and assemble the Dextre Robotics System, deliver and attach the Kibo logistics module, attach science experiments to the exterior of the ISS, and perform other inspection and maintenance tasks.

April 3, 2008 – The unmanned European cargo ship Jules Verne successfully docks with the ISS.

Able to carry more than three times the volume of the Russian-built Progress resupply vehicles, the Jules Verne contains fuel, water, oxygen, and other supplies.

The automated docking sequence is monitored by flight controllers at the European Space Agency in Toulouse, France, as well as at NASA's Mission Control in Houston, and Russia's control center near Moscow.

April 10, 2008 – Two members of Expedition 17 crew arrive at the ISS via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Travelling with them is Yi So-yeon, a space flight participant and South Korea's first astronaut.

Yi later returns to Earth aboard an older Soyuz spacecraft along with members of the Expedition 16 crew; while in space, she will conduct a number of experiments aboard the ISS.

June 2, 2008 – Space Shuttle Discovery docks with the ISS. Discovery is carrying Japan's Kibo lab, a replacement pump for the station's toilet, and astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who is replacing Garrett Reisman as part of the station's crew.

June 11, 2008 – Discovery undocks with the ISS after its crew successfully delivers and installs the Japanese-built Kibo lab, delivers parts to repair the ISS's malfunctioning toilet, collects debris samples from the station's faulty solar power wing, and retrieves an inspection boom left behind during a previous shuttle mission. Station crewmember Reisman departs with Discovery.

October 12, 2008 – The Soyuz TMA-13 capsule carrying two Americans – flight commander Michael Fincke and American computer game millionaire Richard Garriott, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Lonchakov – lifts off from Kazakhstan. It docks with the ISS on October 14.

March 12, 2009 – Orbital debris from a prior space shuttle mission forces the crew of Expedition 18 to retreat to its Soyuz capsule temporarily.

August 24, 2011 – Russian emergency officials report that an unmanned Russian cargo craft, the Progress-M12M that was to deliver 3.

85 tons of food and supplies to the ISS, crashed in a remote area of Siberia.

Future missions could be delayed until an investigation pinpoints the cause of the crash involving a Soyuz rocket, the same kind of booster that powers the flights of crew members to the space station.

May 19, 2012 – SpaceX's launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, the first private spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, is aborted a half a second before liftoff. SpaceX engineers trace the problem to a faulty rocket engine valve.

May 22, 2012 – The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches at 3:44 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket carries the Dragon spacecraft, which is filled with food, supplies and science experiments and bound for the International Space Station.

May 25, 2012 – The unmanned SpaceX Dragon spacecraft connects to the International Space Station, the first private spacecraft to successfully reach an orbiting space station.

October 7, 2012 – SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with its Dragon capsule carrying 1,000 pounds of supplies bound for the International Space Station launches at 8:35 p.m. ET from Florida's Cape Canaveral. It is the first of a dozen NASA-contracted flights to resupply the International Space Station, at a total cost of $1.6 billion.

February 19, 2013 – NASA loses communication with the ISS during a software upgrade. Communication is restored several hours later.

May 9, 2013 – The crew discovers that the International Space Station is leaking ammonia. The crew performs a spacewalk and corrects the leak two days later.

November 9, 2013 – Russian cosmonauts perform the first ever spacewalk of the Olympic Torch ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

December 11, 2013 – A pump on one of the station's two external cooling loops shuts down after hitting a temperature limit, according to NASA. The malfunctioning loop had been producing too much ammonia, possibly the result of a malfunctioning valve.

December 24, 2013 – Astronauts complete a repair job to replace the problematic pump. Their spacewalk lasts seven and a half hours, and is the second ever spacewalk on a Christmas Eve. The first was in 1999 for a Hubble Repair Mission.

  1. March 10, 2014 – After five and a half months aboard the ISS, Expedition 38 astronauts return to earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft.
  2. September 16, 2014 – NASA announces that Boeing and Space X have been awarded contracts to build vehicles that will shuttle astronauts to and from the space station.
  3. October 28, 2014 – An unmanned Orbital Sciences rocket contracted by NASA bursts into flames seconds after liftoff, destroying supplies meant for the International Space Station.
  4. December 15, 2015 – Astronaut Tim Peake is the first British European Space Agency astronaut to arrive at the International Space Station.

March 2, 2016 – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko land in the Kazakhstan desert at 10:26 a.m. local time after a nearly yearlong mission on the International Space Station.

June 20, 2018 – The United Arab Emirates announces it will send an astronaut to the ISS in 2019.

August 3, 2018 – NASA selects nine astronauts, seven men and two women, for missions in spacecraft developed by Boeing and SpaceX. The flights, scheduled for 2019, will be the first launches to space from US soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011, and the first in capsules developed and built by the private sector.

March 25, 2019 – NASA announces that the first all-female spacewalk will be delayed because of spacesuit issues.

June 2019 – NASA announces the ISS is opening for commercial use. The newest NASA directive is intended to allow “commercial manufacturing and production and allow both NASA and private astronauts to conduct new commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory.”

October 18, 2019 – NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch conduct the first all-female spacewalk outside of the ISS. The spacewalk officially begins at 7:38 a.m. ET and lasted for seven hours and 17 minutes, ending at 2:55 p.m. ET.

May 30, 2020 – SpaceX and NASA's Falcon 9, bound for the ISS, launches. This is the first launch from US soil since 2011.

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