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Construction Begins on ISS

On November 20, 1998, the first section of the International Space Station, the Zarya module, was launched into space. Originally designed to be part of the Mir space station, Zarya was repurposed to work on the ISS. Built by a Russian company, Zarya was funded by NASA, who chose to fund the Russian design, which cost $220 million, over the $450 million design by Lockheed Martin. The module weighs 42,500lbs, is 41.2 feet long, and is 13 feet wide.  There are three docking ports and two solar arrays, which have been retracted today to make space for other modules on the ISS. Zarya also provides storage for up to 5.4 metric tons of propellant in its external fuel tanks. While the ISS was being initially constructed, Zarya provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance for the space station. However, today, the module is used mostly for storage. Zarya was only in space alone for two weeks before STS-88 brought Unity, the first of the node modules on the ISS, into space. The ISS is the largest artificial satellite orbiting Earth today and, once assembly is complete, the entire station will have 1,000 cubic meters of pressurized volume.

Items in Our Collection:

Creating the International Space Station by David M Harland; John Catchpole 

 The continuing story of the International Space Station by Peter Bond

Beyond the International Space Station: the future of human spaceflight by Michael J Rycroft