Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 23, 2010

The International Space Station

The International Space Station is an internationally developed research facility currently being assembled in low Earth orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled for completion by late 2011. The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015, and likely 2020. With a greater mass than that of any previous space station, the ISS can be seen from Earth with the naked eye, and is by far the largest artificial satellite that has ever orbited Earth. The station serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments and observations in various biological, chemical and physical sciences. The ISS is operated by Expedition crews of six astronauts and cosmonauts, with the station programme maintaining an uninterrupted human presence in space since the launch of Expedition 1 on 31 October 2000, a total of 19 years and 70 days, taking the record for the longest unbroken human presence in space from the Mir programme today, 23 October 2010. The ISS project began in 1994 with the Shuttle-Mir programme, and the first module of the station, Zarya, was launched in 1998 by Russia. Assembly continues, as pressurised modules and other components are launched by American space shuttles, Russian Proton rockets and Russian Soyuz rockets. The station currently consists of 14 pressurised modules and an extensive integrated truss structure. (more...)

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