What is the ISS made up of?

ISS diagram from April 2016.ISS_Configuration_as_of_August_2016.svg

The International Space Station is larger than a football stadium and weighs around 400 tonnes. But what is actually part of the ISS? Many countries are involved in the functioning of this space station; hence the definition ‘international’. The countries involved are as follows:

  • USA (NASA)
  • Canada (CSA)
  • Russia – (RFSA)
  • Japan – (JAXA)
  • Europe – (ESA)

European countries include – Spain, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.

Each node is given an individual name and function. Currently one European module is in orbit on the ISS. “Columbus” is a science laboratory section, which contains most of the computers which contribute to the research done in the space station.

Japanese space modules include:
Kibo (Hope) – Made from two seperate modules. Mainly dedicated to science experiments but also for systems and storage.

There are seven Russian space modules:
Zarya – “functional cargo block” now is primarily used as storage space, although because it was the first module launched into space, it was used at first as provider for electrical power, propulsion and guidance.
Pirs – docking compartment, scheduled to detach in 2017 to make space for future Russian module “Nauka”
Zvezda – provides all of the stations life support systems
Poisk – provides extra space for scientific experiments, power supply outlets and data transmission interfaces (also known as mini research module 2)
Rassvet – (also known as mini research modue 1) now mainly used for storage and docking space for visiting spacecraft.

America currently has the most space modules :
Leonardo – one of three MPLM (multi-purpose logistics module) used for bringing supplies/cargo to and from the ISS with space shuttle. Now used as storage space.
Harmony – provides electrical power and electronic data and is used as a central connecting point to other modules.
Quest – primary airlock for the ISS and a host for spacewalks.
Tranquility – contains additional life support systems (which let humans survive in space) and provides 6 berthing locations (docking compartments)
Unity – supplies work and living areas of the station.
Cupola – contains 7 windows for observing earth, all of them are equipped with shutters to prevent damage.
Destiny – a laboratory module made of aluminium.

The international space station also has solar panels which generate electricity.


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