A Decade on the Fly: Building the International Space Station--Module by Module [Slide Show]

Between 1998 and 2010 the station evolved from a single Russian module to a behemoth orbital outpost the size of a football field
Zarya module and Unity module, ISS


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On November 2, 2000, a Russian Soyuz capsule docked with the fledgling International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft carried on Expedition 1 two Russians and an American—Sergei Krikalev, Yuri Gidzenko and Bill Shepherd—the three of whom would spend more than four months on the station as its first crew.

Ten years on, the ISS is now the longest continually manned orbiting outpost in spaceflight history, having remained occupied with replacement crews since Krikalev, Gidzenko and Shepherd first arrived.

During that time the station has lived up to its name, welcoming visitors from a number of other countries—Italy, Belgium, Japan, Canada, Germany and France among them—as well as a few paying customers who have hitched rides on Russian rockets. And it has also grown considerably in size and technological capability, thanks in large part to dozens of U.S. space shuttle and Russian unmanned Progress cargo flights that have ferried hardware to the station.

Click here to watch the evolution of the ISS—from a lone, unmanned Zarya module that entered orbit in 1998 to today's sprawling, 100-meter-long outpost—as documented by space shuttle astronauts visiting the station.

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