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The International Space Station

Since the first flight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961, scientists have been developing new means to reach space and increase time spent there.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a major step forward in gaining knowledge and learning to master this fascinating environment, by enabling astronauts to live and work in space aboard a station expected to be operational for at least 10 years.

The space station is as big as a football pitch, and will require more than 40 flights to assemble around 100 components. To accomplish this unprecedented endeavour, the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe with 11 ESA member countries (including France), have joined forces.

The scientific challenges are enormous, as ISS offers a unique experimental platform for life sciences and materials science, physics, as well as for observation of the Earth and the Universe.

The first ISS element, Russia’s Zarya module, was launched in 1998. Since November 2000, 3 astronauts take turns continuously in the station. ISS' work schedule and its final shape are planned for 2010.

ISS (International Space Station)
Initiator United States
Origin initiative of Ronald Reagan in 1984
Status currently operational and in development
Participants the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe, with 11 member countries of ESA (Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland) 
Objectives carry out scientific experiments in microgravity
Launch date of the 1st module 1998
Target date for completion 2010 


Last updated: August 2008

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