From the launch of the first module Zarya in 1998, the International Space Station has grown to the size of a football field, with three laboratories, a gymnasium and an observatory.
The first American module, Unity, was attached to Zarya three weeks later, followed by the second Russian module, Zvezda, in 2000. The first crew to start continuous occupation, Expedition-1, arrived in 2000. Two trusses were installed in 2000 to hold the large solar wings that are characteristic of the orbital outpost.
The US laboratory Destiny arrived in 2001. From 2002 to 2007 the solar wings, connecting nodes and docking ports were installed. Two laboratory modules arrived in 2008: ESA’s Columbus and Japan’s Kibo. The Cupola observatory was installed in 2010.
The Station is a complete orbital research and technology laboratory, and is used to test systems and operations for future space exploration. These activities improve the quality of life on Earth by increasing our scientific knowledge from out-of-this-world research.