Happy birthday ISS!

International Space Station salutes the Sun

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20 November 2013

The International Space Station celebrates its birthday today, 15 years after the first module was launched in 1998.

The ISS is the largest cooperative project ever carried out in science, involving five space agencies: NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The station’s first component, Zarya, was launched on 20 November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket. Three weeks later, the Space Shuttle delivered Unity, the Station’s second module, which was then attached to Zarya.

Almost 2 years later, the first crew to live on the Station, Expedition 1, arrived on the ISS. Since then, the Station has been continuously occupied for 13 years, the longest continuous human presence in space, and the only permanent weightless laboratory!

ISS Expedition 37 crew portrait inside Kibo

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The Station has grown with the addition of the Italian-built Harmony module in 2007, ESA’s Columbus laboratory and Japanese Kibo laboratories in 2008.

Since Columbus was attached to the Station five years ago, over 110 ESA-led experiments involving some 500 scientists have been conducted, covering fluid physics, material sciences, radiation physics, the Sun, the human body, biology and astrobiology.

ESA has sent four ATVs to the ISS, packed with supplies and experiments. The fifth, Georges Lemaître, is scheduled for liftoff next year.

Including the current Expedition 38 crew, 211 people have visited and worked on the Station on more than 352 spaceflights. European astronauts from Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have joined Russians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese and more to push the frontier of human exploration.

The activities performed on the ISS improve the quality of life on Earth by increasing our scientific knowledge from out-of-this-world research.

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