Astra's Stargate Astra's Stargate

You are here: Space Explorers > International Space Station

International Space Station


The international space station from the space shuttle

The logo of the international space station

ISS Fun Facts

SpaceX sends Astronauts to ISS!

SpaceX will launch NASA’s Crew-3 mission on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer to the International Space Station. The flight is scheduled for November 9, 2021.

SpaceX Crew-2 mission launched NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA), and Thomas Pesquet (ESA) astronauts to the space station on April 23, 2021. Megan McArthur is the first female pilot of the Crew Dragon. Megan is married to NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, who flew to ISS in the same Crew Dragon capsule less than a year ago.

SpaceX launched NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the ISS on November 14, 2020. (Expedition #64). They were returned safetly to Earth on May 2, 2021.

Spacex Crew-1

Crew Dragon spacecraft on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it is rolled out to Launch Complex 39A for the Crew-1 mission

The Crew Dragon spacecraft on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being rolled out to Launch Complex 39A for the Crew-1 mission.

SpaceX Demo-2 successfully launched astronauts to the space station and returned them to Earth!

Falcon 9 launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020 at 1:29 am EDT. It was space ship Crew Dragon's second demonstration mission as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurleyare the first two NASA astronauts to fly onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. The two astronauts returned safely on Earth on August 2, 2020.

This was the first human spaceflight launched from U.S.A. soil since the Space Shuttle retired in 2011!

Get the full scoop at:

SpaceX - Crew-1 Mission and the Demo-2 mission Crew Demo-2 Mission
Launch America - - from NASA
Live from Space: Inside the SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour Spacecraft - video length 5:13

- - Find out more @ Astra's about SpaceX

International Space Station Pages

Latest Expedition

SpaceX Crew-2 mission launched NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA), and Thomas Pesquet (ESA) astronaut on to the space station on April 23, 2021, bringing the ISS crew complement up to 11 for a short time. The crew named their SpaceX spacecraft, Endeavour. Crew-1 (named Resilience) with NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, returned to Earth on May 2, 2021 at 2:56 a.m. Crew Dragon splashed down by parachute, landing in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, FL. This was the first night splashdown from space at since Apollo 8 that returned in December 1968.

On April 9, 2021, the Soyuz spacecraft MS-18 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 am EDT carrying Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, flight commander and Pyotr Dubrov (Roscosmos) and NASA's astronaut Mark Vande Hei to the ISS. Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov made spacewalks to install Roscosmos Nauka module.

Expedition 65 - Find out who is on the international space station now!

Human Spaceflight and Exploration

Life on the International Space Station - from the Astronauts

Station Science - Laboratory in Space

International Partners

International Space Station Resupply Vessels

Because the ISS has been continually inhabited since November 2, 2000, a constant supply of consumable materials and waste managment is necessary. The ISS is resupplied by various space organizations using spacecraft that operates automously.

Roscosmos Progress spacecraft

Progress over the Earth

The highly-reliable Progress resupply vehicle is an automated spacecraft that is used to bring supplies and fuel to the International Space Station. The Progress can also raise the station's altitude and orientation of the station with its thrusters. This keeps the station in the appropriate orbit to safely orbit the Earth.

Manufactured by the Russian corporation Energia, the Progress can bring supplies for the astronauts or fuel for use by the ISS. Missions are designated for cargo (supplies) or fuel.

The Progress spacecraft is launched to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket. Progress can stay in orbit for up to six months, and normally undocks shortly before a new one is launched. Progress vehicles have also conducted secondary missions after their cargo resupply flight was complete, including scientific experiments and technical demonstrations in space. they are not re-usable.

- read more at NASA on Progress

ESA Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV)

ESA Automated transfer vehicle

Five ATVs were launched to resupply the ISS by the Ariane 5 heavy-lift launch vehicles. ESA's ATVs had 3x the capacity of the Russian Progress cargo spacecraft. Operating from March of 2008 until July 2014. The ATVs at the ISS were also used to boost the station into a higher orbit.

The 5 ATVs were named after famous European figures: Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler, Edoardo Amaldi, Albert Einstein, and Georges Lemaitre.

JAXA Kounotori - H-II Transfer Vehicle

JAXA H-II transfer vehicle

The H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) is launched from the Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on an H-IIB launch vehicle. It completed its last resupply mission in May of 2020 and has visited the space station 9 times since 2009. The spacecraft does not dock to the station, instead it is grabbed by the Canadarm2 and it guided to the docking node manually.

- read more at JAXA on- Kuonotori

Cargo Dragon - SpaceX

Spacex's Cargo Dragon

The first Dragon spacecraft launched Dec. 8, 2010 as COTS Demo Flight-1 on a Falcon 9 rocketand was successfully recovered after re-entry through Earth's atmosphere. (In November of the 2010 Federal Aviation Administration issued a its first re-entry license!) SpaceX's Cargo Dragon is the only spacecraft currently capable of returning to Earth with cargo. Like Kounotori, Cargo Dragon is captured by the Canadarm and attached to the space station, so has no docking capability. As of November 2020, the SpaceX cargo Dragon has visited the ISS 22 times.

Cargo Dragon 2, is an updated version of the original Dragon spacecraft capable of docking directly to the station. The first resupply mission that Cargo Dragon 2 flew was Commercial Resupply Services-21 (CRS-21) that performed an automated docking on December 6, 2020 to Node-2/Harmony's zenith docking port. Dragon2 does not have to be attached to the station by the CanadaArm.

Cygnus spacecraft - Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grummond Cygnus supply spacecraft

Northrop Grumman has visited the ISS 12 times since its first mission in 2014. Like the other supply vessels, it is captured by the robotic arm and then attached to the ISS. Cygnus is launched on Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket. Successfully launched on February 20, 2021.

Commercial Crew Program

The Commercial Crew Program is a human spaceflight program operated by NASA. Two American aerospace manufacturers, Boeing and SpaceX, are the main corporations involved. This program is allows private enterprises to transport crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The two spacecraft that have been developed are SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. SpaceX has successfully launched NASA astronauts to the station. Boeing continues its development of the Starliner capsule.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program

Commercial Crew Press Kit PDF - Download for detailed information

SpaceX Cargo Dragon

Crew Dragon  at Kennedy Space Center

As of the update of this page, Cargo Dragon has been launched 23 times with 22 visits to the ISS for resupply. The Crew Dragons latest launch of astronauts Behnken and Hurley is a major milestone for commercial space flight. The second launch of Crew Dragon blasted off for the ISS on November 14, 2020 carrying NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi to join with the three astronauts already on the ISS in Expedition #64. This brings the total of Astronauts o the space station to 7, the maximum number ever on a full expedition.

The "extra" astronaut is possible because the Crew Dragon spacecraft will remain at the station and provide a return trip for 4 astronauts. Previously, two Soyuz spacecraft could be docked at the ISS and they only carry 3 astronauts. Astronauts are not left on the ISS without an escape vehicle for safety reasons. Another SpaceX "first" for this mission is that the vessel docked to the ISS without assistance from the CanadArm2.

- - Find out more @ Astra's about Crew Dragon

The image of Crew Dragon shows the spacecraft's arrival at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on November 5, 2020.

Boeing Starliner

Starliner  at Kennedy Space Center
Testing Starliner at NASA KSC

Starliner (CST)-100 spacecraft will be launched on a Atlas V rocket (United Launch Alliance) from Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Starliner is scheduled to be launched in March 29, 2021. It was designed to accommodate 7 passengers, or crew and cargo for missions to low-Earth orbit. It will dock to the ISS and return about a week later to land in the western United States. This is a test to prove the system is ready to fly with human crew aboard.

Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test to the ISS is known as Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). There is now no target date for this launch but it is not expected to be ready in 2021. Many people are disappointed in the Boeing spacecraft that has seen failures and delays. Hope they pull it off some day.

Astronauts have been selected for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test scheduled to be launched later in 2021. NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore has been choosen as mission commander. He will be joined by Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann for the inaugural crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner launching to the ISS later in 2021.

Starliner’s first crewed mission is part of a series of demonstration missions required for NASA to certify that Starliner is qualified to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

- - Read more about Boeing and Starliner on Astra's Commercial Space page

Online Videos for ISS

In 2020 there must be hundreds of ISS videos out there. Try NASA's video gallery

Interactive Learning for ISS

ISS Expedition XXX - 30th Crew aboard the International Space Station

Launched Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ISS image taken during Space Shuttle on mission STS-113

The image of the International Space Station above was taken from the Space Shuttle on mission STS-113, the appearence of the station from December 2002 until September 2006. The image at the top of this page was taken by the crew of Discovery on STS-133 when it departed the station in March 2011. These and other images of the space station are available at NASA, and can be reached by clicking on this link:

International Space Station Photo Gallery this will take you to the page that contains the NASA image gallery showing the progress of ISS as it was and is being built.