ISS Assembly Time-Lapse Animation





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Published on Feb 26, 2011

An animation chronicaling the construction and assembly of the International Space Station.

The assembly of the International Space Station, a major endeavour in space architecture, began in November 1998. Astronauts install each element using spacewalks. By 15 September 2010, they had completed 150, totalling 944 hours of extra-vehicular activity (EVA), all devoted to assembly and maintenance of the station. Twenty-eight of these spacewalks originated from the airlocks of docked Space Shuttles; the remaining 122 were launched from the station.

The first segment of the ISS, Zarya, was launched on 20 November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket, followed two weeks later by Unity—the first of three node modules—which was launched aboard Space Shuttle flight STS-88. This bare two-module core of the ISS remained unmanned for the next one-and-a-half years. In July 2000 the Russian module Zvezda was added, allowing a maximum crew of three to occupy the ISS continuously. The first resident crew, Expedition 1, arrived in November 2000 on Soyuz TM-31, midway between the flights of STS-92 and STS-97. These two Space Shuttle flights each added segments of the station's Integrated Truss Structure, which provided the embryonic station with communications, guidance, electrical grounding (on Z1), and power via solar arrays located on the P6 truss.

Over the next two years the station continued to expand. A Soyuz-U rocket delivered the Pirs docking compartment. The Space Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour delivered the Destiny laboratory and Quest airlock, in addition to the station's main robot arm, the Canadarm2, and several more segments of the Integrated Truss Structure.

The expansion schedule was interrupted by the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-107 in 2003, with the resulting hiatus in the Space Shuttle programme halting station assembly until the launch of Discovery on STS-114 in 2005.

The official resumption of assembly was marked by the arrival of Atlantis, flying STS-115, which delivered the station's second set of solar arrays. Several more truss segments and a third set of arrays were delivered on STS-116, STS-117, and STS-118. As a result of the major expansion of the station's power-generating capabilities, more pressurised modules could be accommodated, and the Harmony node and Columbus European laboratory were added. These were followed shortly after by the first two components of Kibō. In March 2009, STS-119 completed the Integrated Truss Structure with the installation of the fourth and final set of solar arrays. The final section of Kibō was delivered in July 2009 on STS-127, followed by the Russian Poisk module. The third node, Tranquility, was delivered in February 2010 during STS-130 by the Space Shuttle Endeavour, alongside the Cupola, closely followed in May 2010 by the penultimate Russian module, Rassvet, delivered by Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-132.


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