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IMAGE: International Space Station History

Station Missions

Expedition Crews

Station Concepts

The first proposal for a manned station occurred in 1869, when an American novelist told the story of how a "Brick Moon" came to orbit Earth to help ships navigate at sea. In 1923, Romanian Hermann Oberth was the first to use the term "space station" to describe a wheel-like facility that would serve as the jumping off place for human journeys to the moon and Mars. In 1952, Dr. Werner von Braun published his concept of a space station in Collier's magazine. He envisioned a space station that would have a diameter of 250 feet, orbit more than 1,000 miles above the Earth, and spin to provide artificial gravity through centrifugal force.

The Soviet Union launched the world's first space station, Salyut 1, in 1971 - a decade after launching the first human into space. The United States sent its first space station, the larger Skylab, into orbit in 1973 and it hosted three crews before it was abandoned in 1974. Russia continued to focus on long-duration space missions and in 1986 launched the first modules of the Mir space station.

In 1998, the first two modules of the International Space Station were launched and joined together in orbit. Other modules soon followed and the first crew arrived in 2000.

The International Space Station is constructed in orbit.
Pictured from left to right: The Zarya Control Module prior to the docking of Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-88; Zarya is attached to the Unity Node; the Zvezda Service Module as seen during STS-106; during STS-92, the Z1 Truss was attached to the station; the station's solar arrays were installed on STS-97; the U.S. Destiny Laboratory was installed on mission STS-98.

Learn more about NASA history at To view the archive of Space Station Science Status Reports, please go to the Web site

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 04/10/2009
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