International Space Station celebrates 25 years

International Space Station celebrates 25 years

UNITED STATES - NASA marked 25 years since the first two elements of the International Space Station were launched and joined in space.

On November 20 and December 4, 1998, Zarya and Unity, respectively, were launched into orbit as the first two modules of the International Space Station.

By December 6, 1998, Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-88 crew, NASA astronauts Bob Cabana, Rick Sturckow, Nancy Currie, Jerry Ross and James Newman, along with Russian Space Agency (now Roscosmos) cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, captured the Zarya. module with the Space Shuttle's robotic arm and attached it to Unity.

Engineers, separated by thousands of miles, designed and built the two modules and the elements met for the first time in space. The STS-88 crew, commanded by Cabana, spent the next few days and three spacewalks making connections between the two modules before releasing the initial station.

Since the union of Zarya and Unity, the space station has grown with the addition of international partners, resulting in the largest and most complex piece of technology built in space.

Today, the space station remains a global effort with 273 people from 21 countries having visited the microgravity laboratory and has hosted more than 3,700 educational and research investigations by people in 108 countries and areas.

In November 2000, the space station welcomed its first long-term residents, Expedition 1, including NASA astronaut William Shepard and Roscosmos cosmonauts Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko.

Since then, international teams have kept the space station permanently inhabited, performing routine operations and maintenance, including dozens of spacewalks, and conducting world-class research in a wide range of scientific disciplines.