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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

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SPACE SPRAWL

Shuttle astronauts have not visited the ISS since May, when space shuttle Atlantis delivered a Russian-built research module during STS-132. The photo above shows how the station looked on approach during that mission.....[ More ]

BRANCHING OUT

By September 2009, when this photograph from space shuttle Discovery was taken toward the end of the STS-128 mission, the ISS had its full complement of solar array wings and stretched more than 100 meters.....[ More ]

SPACE SCIENCE

The STS-122 mission in February 2008 delivered the Columbus laboratory module for the European Space Agency (ESA). In this view from space shuttle Atlantis following undocking with the ISS, the newly installed Columbus is visible as a cylinder jutting off to the left at the bottom of the station.....[ More ]

BALANCE OF POWER

In 2007 the STS-117 mission delivered the ISS's third set of solar array wings. (Only two are visible here; one set was retracted until relocation during a later mission.) The above photograph was taken during space shuttle Atlantis 's inspection fly-around following the solar upgrade.....[ More ]

BACK TO WORK

On February 1, 2003, space shuttle Columbia broke apart during atmospheric reentry following a research mission, killing all seven crew members on board. The shuttle program was put on hold, and the assembly of the ISS stalled.....[ More ]

ONE-ARMED BANDIT

The crew of STS-110 snapped this photograph in 2002 after space shuttle Atlantis pulled away from the station. The extended appendage at the bottom of the photo is the Canadarm2, an articulated robotic arm built by the Canadian Space Agency that was installed in 2001.....[ More ]

TAKING WING

By December 2000 the ISS had already been crewed for a month. That month, space shuttle mission STS-97 delivered to the station its first set of solar arrays, or "wings," to generate power for onboard activities.....[ More ]

PIECE BY PIECE

In July 2000 another Russian component was delivered to orbit by a Proton rocket. The Zvezda service module [ the pictured module with the largest solar wingspan ] linked to the existing Zarya module and provided working and sleeping quarters for future crew members.....[ More ]

TWO'S COMPANY

The STS-88 mission delivered to orbit a U.S. passageway module known as Unity [ right ], which was attached to Zarya [ left ] and then released. The Endeavour crew took the above photograph during an inspection fly-around after the two-piece space station had been released.....[ More ]

FIRST THING FIRST

This photo was taken from space shuttle Endeavour on approach to the unmanned, Russian-built Zarya module during the STS-88 mission in December 1998. Zarya, which provided an early source of propulsion and power, had been launched into space the month before on a Russian Proton rocket, becoming the first piece of the International Space Station (ISS) to reach orbit.....[ More ]

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