Pressurised ModulesMain article: Assembly sequence
Zarya (Russian: Заря́; lit. dawn), also known as the Functional Cargo Block or FGB (Russian: ФГБ), was the first module of the station, launched on 20 November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket from Site 81 in the first and largest spaceport, Baikonur to a 400 km (250 mi) high orbit. After parking in orbit, the Zarya Module provided orientation control, communications and electrical power for itself, and for the passive Node 1 (Unity) attached later, while the station awaited launch of the third component, a Russian-provided crew living quarters and early station core, the service module Zvezda. The Service Module enhanced or replaced many functions of Zarya. The FGB is a descendant of the TKS spacecraft designed for the Russian Salyut programme. 6,100 kg of propellant fuel can be stored and transferred automatically to and from ships docked to the Russian portion of the station – the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS). Zarya was originally intended as a module for the Russian Mir space station, but was not flown as of the end of the Mir-1 programme. Development costs for Zarya were paid for by Russia (and the former Soviet Union), spread across previous space station programmes, and some construction and preparation costs were paid for by the United States.
Unity, a passive connecting module was the first U.S.-built component of the Station. It is cylindrical in shape, with six berthing locations facilitating connections to other modules. Unity was carried into orbit as the primary cargo of STS-88 in 1998.
Zvezda (Russian: Звезда, meaning "star"), DOS-8, also known as the Service Module or SM (Russian: СМ). It provides all of the station's critical systems, its addition rendered the station permanently habitable for the first time, adding life support for up to six crew and living quarters for two. Zvezda's DMS-R computer handles guidance, navigation & control for the entire space station. A second computer which performs the same functions is installed in the Nauka FGB-2. The rocket used for Zvezda's launch was one of the first to carry advertising. The space frame was completed in February 1985, major internal equipment was installed by October 1986, and it was launched on 12 July 2000. Zvezda is at the rear of the station according to its normal direction of travel and orientation, its engines are used to boost the station's orbit. Alternatively Russian and European spacecraft can dock to Zvezda's aft (rear) port and use their engines to boost the station.
Destiny is the primary research facility for United States payloads aboard the ISS. In 2011, NASA solicited proposals for a not-for-profit group to manage all American science on the station which does not relate to manned exploration. The module houses 24 International Standard Payload Racks, some of which are used for environmental systems and crew daily living equipment. Destiny also serves as the mounting point for the station's Truss Structure.
Quest is the only USOS airlock, Quest hosts spacewalks with both United States EMU and Russian Orlan spacesuits. Quest consists of two segments; the equipment lock, that stores spacesuits and equipment, and the crew lock, from which astronauts can exit into space. This module has a separately controlled atmosphere. Crew sleep in this module, breathing a low nitrogen mixture the night before scheduled EVAs, to avoid decompression sickness (known as "the bends") in the low pressure suits.
Pirs (Russian: Пирс, meaning "pier"), (Russian: Стыковочный отсек), "docking module", SO-1 or DC-1 (docking compartment), and Poisk (Russian: По́иск; lit. Search), also known as the Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM 2), Малый исследовательский модуль 2, or МИМ 2. Pirs and Poisk are Russian airlock modules. Each of these modules have 2 identical hatches. An outward opening hatch on the MIR space station failed after it swung open too fast after unlatching, due to a small amount of air pressure remaining in the airlock. A different entry was used, and the hatch repaired. All EVA hatches on the ISS open inwards and are pressure sealing. Pirs is used to store, service, and refurbish Russian Orlan suits and provides contingency entry for crew using the slightly bulkier American suits. The outermost docking ports on both airlocks allow docking of Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, and the automatic transfer of propellants to and from storage on the ROS.
Harmony, is the second of the station's node modules and the utility hub of the USOS. The module contains four racks that provide electrical power, bus electronic data, and acts as a central connecting point for several other components via its six Common Berthing Mechanisms (CBMs). The European Columbus and Japanese Kibō laboratories are permanently berthed to two of the radial ports, the other two can used for the HTV. American Shuttle Orbiters docked with the ISS via PMA-2, attached to the forward port. Tranquility is the third and last of the station's U.S. nodes, it contains an additional life support system to recycle waste water for crew use and supplements oxygen generation. Three of the four berthing locations are not used. One location has the cupola installed, and one has the docking port adapter installed.
Columbus, the primary research facility for European payloads aboard the ISS, provides a generic laboratory as well as facilities specifically designed for biology, biomedical research and fluid physics. Several mounting locations are affixed to the exterior of the module, which provide power and data to external experiments such as the European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF), Solar Monitoring Observatory, Materials International Space Station Experiment, and Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space. A number of expansions are planned for the module to study quantum physics and cosmology. ESA’s development of technologies on all the main areas of life support has been ongoing for more than 20 years and are/have been used in modules such as Columbus and the ATV. The German Aerospace Center DLR manages ground control operations for Columbus and the ATV is controlled from the French CNES Toulouse Space Center.
Kibō (Japanese: きぼう, "hope") is the largest single ISS module. This laboratory is used to carry out research in space medicine, biology, Earth observations, materials production, biotechnology, communications research, and has facilities for growing plants and fish. During August 2011, an observatory mounted on Kibō, which utilises the ISS's orbital motion to image the whole sky in the X-ray spectrum, detected for the first time the moment a star was swallowed by a black hole. The laboratory contains a total of 23 racks, including 10 experiment racks and has a dedicated airlock for experiments. In a 'shirt sleeves' environment, crew attach an experiment to the sliding drawer within the airlock, close the inner, and then open the outer hatch. By extending the drawer and removing the experiment using the dedicated robotic arm, payloads are placed on the external platform. The process can be reversed and repeated quickly, allowing access to maintain external experiments without the delays caused by EVA's. Only the Russian and Japanese laboratories have this feature. A smaller pressurised module is attached to the top of Kibō, serving as a cargo bay. The dedicated Interorbital communications system allows large amounts of data to be beamed from Kibō's ICS, first to the Japanese KODAMA satellite in geostationary orbit, then to Japanese ground stations. When a direct communication link is used, contact time between the ISS and a ground station is limited to approximately 10 minutes per visible pass. When KODAMA relays data between a LEO spacecraft and a ground station, real-time communications are possible in 60% of the flight path of the spacecraft. Ground staff use tele-present robotics to conduct on-orbit research without crew intervention.
Cupola is a seven window observatory, used to view Earth and docking spacecraft. Its name derives from the Italian word cupola, which means "dome". The Cupola project was started by NASA and Boeing, but cancelled due to budget cuts. A barter agreement between NASA and the ESA resulted in the Cupola's development being resumed in 1998 by the ESA. The module comes equipped with robotic workstations for operating the station's main robotic arm and shutters to protect its windows from damage caused by micrometeorites. It features 7 windows, with a 80-centimetre (31 in) round window, the largest window on the station. The distinctive design has been compared to the 'turret' of the fictitious Millennium Falcon in the motion picture Star Wars; the original prop lightsaber used by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the 1977 film was flown to the station in 2007, and the Falcon rockets commercial ships that come to the station use, are named after the Millennium Falcon itself.
Rassvet (Russian: Рассве́т; lit. "dawn"), also known as the Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1) (Russian: Малый исследовательский модуль, МИМ 1) and formerly known as the Docking Cargo Module (DCM), is similar in design to the Mir Docking Module launched on STS-74 in 1995. Rassvet is primarily used for cargo storage and as a docking port for visiting spacecraft. It was flown to the ISS aboard NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-132 mission and connected in May 2010, Rassvet is the only Russian owned module launched by NASA, to repay for the launch of Zarya, which is Russian designed and built, but partially paid for by NASA. Rassvet was launched with the Russian Nauka Laboratory's Experiments airlock temporarily attached to it, and spare parts for the European Robotic Arm.
Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) The three NASA Space Shuttle MPLM cargo containers Leonardo, Raffaello and Donatello, were built for NASA in Turin, Italy by Alcatel Alenia Space, now Thales Alenia Space. The MPLMs are provided to the ISS programme by the Italy (independent of Italy's role as a member state of ESA) to NASA and are considered to be U.S. elements. In a bartered exchange for providing these containers, the U.S. has given Italy research time aboard the ISS out of the U.S. allotment in addition to that which Italy receives as a member of ESA. The Permanent Multipurpose Module was created by converting Leonardo into a module that could be permanently attached to the station.
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