Sixteen nations are involved in building and supporting the International Space Station: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
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Construction began on the ISS in 1998 with the robotic Proton launch of the Russian module Zarya. Two weeks later, US module UNITY was launched aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-88) and attached to Zarya via multiple EVAs. All 159 subsequent modules, arrays, truss segments and other various components were delivered by Space Shuttles up through June 2011, and connected by various astronauts and cosmonauts over a whopping 1,020 hours of spacewalks!
The International Space Station is maintained at an orbital altitude of between 330 to 435 kilometers (or, 205-270 miles high)
The ISS has over 8 miles of wiring onboard, 52 computers, and an acre of solar arrays to provide power.
With the installation of the final solar arrays, the ISS is now about equal to the length of a football field (including both end zones).
Call sign for the ISS is "Space Station Alpha"
Space Station Alpha now weighs 435,592 kilograms (slightly less than one million pounds).
October 30, 2000 was the very last day all humans were on Earth. As of the Soyuz rocket launch the following morning, which put the first crew on the ISS, at least two individuals have always been orbiting the planet in space!
Since that first crew in November of 2000, there have been 35 long-duration Expeditions to the International Space Station, and the next 9 (through 2015) are already planned.
New milestones in the modern era!
In April 2010, a record was set when four women were on the ISS together as STS-131 mission specialists. Left to Right above: Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Stephanie Wilson (NASA), and Naoko Yamazaki (JAXA).
It takes about 90 minutes for it to make a trip around Earth, and each solar day, the International Space Station travels a distance equal to that of a trip to the Moon and back.
There are 52 computers control systems on the ISS. 44 of those are in the American modules. More than 3.3 million lines of software code on the ground support 1.8 million lines of flight software code.