| About the International Space Station
The International Space Station is the largest and most complex international scientific project in history. And when it is complete just after the turn of the century, the the station will represent a move of unprecedented scale off the home planet. Led by the United States, the International Space Station draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency and Brazil.
More than four times as large as the Russian Mir space station, the completed International Space Station will have a mass of about 1,040,000 pounds. It will measure 356 feet across and 290 feet long, with almost an acre of solar panels to provide electrical power to six state-of-the-art laboratories.
The station will be in an orbit with an altitude of 250 statute miles with an inclination of 51.6 degrees. This orbit allows the station to be reached by the launch vehicles of all the international partners to provide a robust capability for the delivery of crews and supplies. The orbit also provides excellent Earth observations with coverage of 85 percent of the globe and over flight of 95 percent of the population. By the end of this year, about 500,000 pounds of station components will be have been built at factories around the world.
| U.S. Role and Contributions
The United States has the responsibility for developing and ultimately operating major elements and systems aboard the station. The U.S. elements include three connecting modules, or nodes; a laboratory module; truss segments; four solar arrays; a habitation module; three mating adapters; a cupola; an unpressurized logistics carrier and a centrifuge module. The various systems being developed by the U.S. include thermal control; life support; guidance, navigation and control; data handling; power systems; communications and tracking; ground operations facilities and launch-site processing facilities.
| International Contributions
The international partners, Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency, and Russia, will contribute the following key elements to the International Space Station:
- Canada is providing a 55-foot-long robotic arm to be used for assembly and maintenance tasks on the Space Station.
- The European Space Agency is building a pressurized laboratory to be launched on the Space Shuttle and logistics transport vehicles to be launched on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
- Japan is building a laboratory with an attached exposed exterior platform for experiments as well as logistics transport vehicles.
- Russia is providing two research modules; an early living quarters called the Service Module with its own life support and habitation systems; a science power platform of solar arrays that can supply about 20 kilowatts of electrical power; logistics transport vehicles; and Soyuz spacecraft for crew return and transfer.
In addition, Brazil and Italy are contributing some equipment to the station through agreements with the United States.