International Space Station - Origins

Origins

The International Space Station programme represents a combination of three national space station projects: the Russian/Soviet Mir-2, NASA's Freedom including the Japanese Kibō laboratory, and the European Columbus space stations. Canadian robotics supplement these projects.

Mir-2 was originally authorised in the February 1976 resolution setting forth plans for development of third generation Soviet space systems; the first module, which would have served the same function as Zarya, was destroyed in a launch mishap.

In the early 1980s, NASA planned to launch a modular space station called Freedom as a counterpart to the Soviet Salyut and Mir space stations. Freedom was never constructed and the remnants of the project became part of the ISS. The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), or Kibō, was announced in 1985, as part of the Freedom space station in response to a NASA request in 1982.

In Rome in early 1985, science ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) countries approved the Columbus program, the most ambitious effort in space undertaken by that organisation at the time. The plan spearheaded by Germany and Italy included a module which would be attached to Freedom, and with the capability to evolve into a full-fledged European orbital outpost before the end of the century. The space station was also going to tie the emerging European and Japanese national space programmes closer to the U.S.-led project, thereby preventing those nations from becoming major, independent competitors too.

In September 1993, American Vice-President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced plans for a new space station, which eventually became the International Space Station. They also agreed, in preparation for this new project, that the United States would be involved in the Mir programme, including American Shuttles docking, in the Shuttle-Mir Program.

Read more about this topic:  International Space Station

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