International Space Station Celebrates 15th Birthday December 10

The International Space Station has been in orbit for over a decade above the Earth. The ISS is a multinational project with astronauts living and working in space for months at a time. The US-made ISS node called Unity and the Russian Zarya module opened for the first time on December 10, 1998.

That means that the ISS has now been in orbit for almost 15 years. Astronaut Bob Cabana was commander of the space shuttle mission that linked the first modules for the ISS together. Cabana and a Russian crewmate Sergi Krikalev entered the new ISS at the same time becoming the first people to do so.

From the humble beginnings of only two linked modules, the ISS has grown significantly over its decade and a half in orbit. The ISS is now about the size of a football field and weighs over a million pounds. The ISS has had crew on-board continually for the last 13 years.

There are 15 national partners in the ISS along with NASA. The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off on December 4, 1998 with the Unity module in the payload bay. The US module and Russian module were connected on December 6.