The ISS is the largest international high-technology project

15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)

More than 20 years ago, on March 15, 1993, the general director of Roskosmos Y.N.Koptev and general designer of S.P.Korolev RSC Energia Y.P.Semenov submitted to NASA management a proposal to construct an international space station based on the Russian project of space station Mir-2 and US space station Freedom.

In January 1998, 15 partner countries under the ISS program signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on civilian international space station.
November 1998 saw the successful launch of the first ISS element – Functional Cargo Block Zarya. In spite of difficulties involved in overcoming scientific and technical challenges, international integration, insufficient budgetary funding, participants in the ISS program consecutively achieved station deployment, its operation in manned mode, and ever increasing utilization.
On October 31, 2000 (15 years ago), spacecraft Soyuz TM-31 took to the station its Expedition One crew consisting of two Russian cosmonauts S.K. Krikalev and Y.P.Gidzenko, as well as a US astronaut W.Shepherd. Ever since then the station has been permanently manned.
2008 ushered in the ISS “globalization” phase with the addition to the ISS of modules Columbus (European Space Agency - ESA) and Kibo (Japan), as well as ATV spacecraft (ESA). Currently operating within the ISS infrastructure are elements from all the partner countries. Since 2009, the station crew consists of 6 crewmembers.

Historical background

Before the ISS project, there were international programs onboard Russian orbital stations Salyut-6, Salyut-7 and Mir.
It was the Soviet (Russian) space station Mir which became the prototype for the International Space Station, which built upon many of the Mir achievements.
The following firsts were achieved onboard the Mir space station:

  • the efficiency was verified of continuous crew stay onboard the space station (as opposed to the intermittent tours of duty used onboard Salyut-6 and Salyut-7);
  • the efficiency was verified of the modular principle of station build-up and of developing modules for specific purposes;
  • an experience was gained in assembling large structures in space and operating and orbital complex with a mass of up to 250 metric tons for 15 years. the ISS design life was validated;
  • an experience was gained in repairs in space under emergency conditions without evacuating the crew;
  • 135 cosmonauts and astronauts from various countries worked onboard Mir. 78 spacewalks were performed. More than 100 dockings of various types of spacecraft and modules were performed. Space duration record was set (V.Polyakov – 438 days);
  • There have been 9 dockings of Space Shuttle Orbiter with orbital station Mir. An international system was developed for logistical support of manned space complexes using spacecraft Soyuz TM, Progress M and Space Shuttle.


Russia’s entry into the ISS Program

On July 17, 1992 the presidents of Russian and the United States signed an agreement between Russia and US on cooperation in space. On April 3-4, 1993 at a summit meeting at Vancouver between the President of Russia and the President of the United States a Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation was set up. The Commission was headed by the Chairman of the Russian Federation Government and Vice President of the United States. On September 2-3, 1993 a statement was adopted on the joint program of manned spaceflight which laid the groundwork for Russia’s participation in the International Space Station project.
On December 6, 1993 the governments of the United States, Canada, Japan, member states of the European Space Agency extended an official invitation to Russia to take part in the International Space Station project as a full partner. On December 17, 1993 the Russian Federation Government through its decree gave consent to Russia’s participation in the ISS program.
On January 29, 1998 an Agreement was signed between the government of Canada, governments of member countries of the European Space Agency, government of Japan, government of the Russian Federation and the government of the United States of America with respect to cooperation on the International Space Station for civilian purposes. The agreement was ratified by the parliaments of all the participant countries.
This established a legal basis for the International Space Station program.

15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)

ISS Program objectives.

1990s was a complicated transitional period for the Russian economy. The country’s budget lacked money even for the essentials. The ISS program made it possible to continue manned space programs and preserve rocket and space industry in Russia.
There were also other objectives for Russia’s participation in the program:

  • Obtaining scientific results in geophysics, Earth remote sensing, medicine, biology, biotechnology, materials processing, etc.;
  • development of new space hardware and space technologies for use in advanced space and non-space projects. Getting access to state-of-the-art high technologies;
  • use of ISS in the interests of war on terror, natural disaster monitoring and control;
  • expanding the space services market and obtaining non-budgetary funding.

The beginning of the ISS assembly

The assembly of the ISS started on November 20, 1998, with the launch of the Russian-built Zarya module – Functional Cargo Block (FGB).


On December 7, 1998, US module Unity (NODE- 1) was docked with Zarya module.
On July 12, 2000, Russian Service Module Zvezda was put in orbit. This module enabled continuous work onboard the ISS of an international crew of three.
On November 2, 2000, Soyuz TM spacecraft delivered to the ISS the first expedition crew consisting of:

commander William Shepherd,
pilot Yuri Gidzenko,
flight engineer Sergei Krikalev.

Originally, the Russian Segment was supposed to have ten modules with a total mass of about 165 tons, which the US segment was planned to have 16 elements (including a Japanese module and an ESA module). In which case Russia, having contributed 10.5 % of the funding, was to own 33 % of the ISS resources.

ISS Today

Operating at present as a part of the ISS Russian Segment are:

  • cargo module Zarya,
  • Service module Zvezda,
  • modules Pirs, Poisk, Rassvet,
  • manned spacecraft Soyuz TMA-M,
  • cargo spacecraft Progress M.


The US segment consists of:

  • US modules Unity, Destiny, Harmony, Tranquility with Cupola,
  • Multi-purpose module PMM,
  • Quest airlock module,
  • trusses with solar arrays,
  • modules Columbus (ESA), Kibo (Japan)


RSC Energia is the prime developer of the Russian Segment of the International Space Station and provides:

  • coordination of work between Russian companies, development and integration of the Russian Segment into the station and operations, including development and operation of the major modules of the segment (Zvezda, Pirs, Poisk, Rassvet, etc.);
  • Development, manufacturing, launch and operation of manned and cargo spacecraft of the Soyuz TMA and Progress M type and some modules of the Russian Segment.
  • participation in the space station mission control, operation of the Russian Segment and crew training.

РКК «Энергия» является головным разработчиком российского сегмента Международной космической станцииРКК «Энергия» является головным разработчиком российского сегмента Международной космической станции

РКК «Энергия» является головным разработчиком российского сегмента Международной космической станции 

Mission plan fulfilment

Over the period of 17 years the partners have made 170 launches under the ISS program.
Among them there were 37 launches of Space Shuttle (USA), 2 launches of Proton launch vehicles to deliver Russian modules FGB and SM (Service Module), 44 launches of Soyuz and 60 launches of Progress spacecraft,

Корабль «Прогресс» перед стыковкой Корабль «Прогресс» пристыкованный
Корабль «Прогресс» перед стыковкой Корабль «Прогресс» пристыкованный

5 launches of the European cargo vehicle ATV, 5 launches of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), 6 successful launches of Dragon spacecraft built by SpaceХ, 3 launches of cargo vehicles Cygnus built by Orbital Sciences.



International crews of the partner countries continuously work onboard the ISS In September 2015 the crew of Expedition 45/46 arrived at the station.

экипаж 45/46 экспедиции 

Missions to the ISS of representatives of various countries
Полёты на МКС представителей  разных стран

During the time the space station has been in operation, there have been 189 spacewalks.

There have been 19 commercial missions to the ISS.
Participating in them were 7 private citizens (altogether 8 missions – Simonyi flew twice), 8 representatives of the agencies of the partner countries, Brazil and Kazakhstan (altogether 9 missions – Vittori flew twice) and 2 missions of participants in selection in their own countries (Korea and Malaysia).


За время работы станции совершено 189 выходов в открытый космос

This doesn’t include 37 missions of US astronauts and 13 missions of other partners to the ISS, flown on Soyuz spacecraft within framework of mutual commitments.

Completed in support of the space station operation was a large amount of joint research and development aimed at:

  • operating the station consisting of two different segments – the Russian Segment (RS) and US Orbital Segment (USOS) – as an integral system,
  • assuring safe crew life support onboard the ISS,
  • coordinating and organizing cargo traffic to the ISS,
  • coordinating, distributing and accounting for the use of resources of the ISS RS,
  • cosmonaut and astronaut training.

Every year, within the framework of the ISS integration and evolution activities, support is provided for the work of 45 technical groups, 35 control boards and committees, four contract management meetings are held.
Heard at sessions of the Council of Chief Designers are reports and statements on the progress of preparations for launches of Soyuz spacecraft, on the results of the ISS mission, the readiness status of the ISS, the Lead Operations Control Team (LOCT) and mission support facilities, launch facilities, ground control facilities and ground control infrastructure, search and rescue assets, on the readiness of the launch vehicle for the mission; on the status of the US Orbital Segment and its readiness for the upcoming mission phase; about the readiness of the crews for carrying out the program of upcoming activities on the ISS, and on their health status, etc.


15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС) 15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)

Decisions are made on the plan of the upcoming spacecraft pre-launch processing activities, on the ISS mission for the forthcoming period, on the program of research and experiments during the next phase of the ISS mission, on the ISS RS authorization to proceed with the program for the next phase. Before each launch, the State Commission holds its sessions at Baikonur with international partner participation.

In the course of implementing such an ambitious project as the ISS, the international partners had to overcome various problems.
The problems, mostly of financial nature, which affected Russia, had an impact on the deployment schedule and configuration of the ISS Russian Segment.
And budget and funding problems were encountered not only by Russia.
A 2001 audit of the ISS program funding by the US federal authorities found an overspending. A decision was made to suspend funding for a number of elements of the US orbital segment (HAB, CRV), which were needed to meet NASA’s commitments to increase the ISS crew to 6 or 7.

15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС) 15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)
15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)

In the longer term, when new elements, such as Multipurpose Laboratory Module MLM and Science and Power Module SPM, are put into operation as parts of the space station, the efficiency of is utilization will undoubtedly increase. However, at present, the programs of scientific and engineering research to be implemented onboard the station have not yet been fully formed. We always preserve the ability to adapt workstations in all the modules to an expanding range of research and to addressing various utilization tasks in the course of the mission.
Upon completion of its assembly the ISS mass will be 470 metric tons, and its pressurized volume will be 1200 m3.

15 лет – непрерывному пребыванию человека в космосе, на Международной космической станции (МКС)

It can be argued that the result of the fifteen years of ISS operation is development of technologies assuring a permanent manned presence in space:

  • control of complex integrated vehicles and multiprocessor systems;
  • integrated mission control from three MCCs (Korolev, Houston, Toulouse);
  • setting up a common living environment;
  • training integrated international crews;
  • integrated international logistics (Soyuz, Progress, Space Shuttle, ATV, HTV, etc.);
  • crew and station safety assurance;
  • international integration of the programs.

Lying ahead is continued assembly of the Russian Segment of the station and work to more fully utilize the low Earth orbit. The operation of the International Space Station in orbit has been extended till 2024. It will undoubtedly be used for developing deep space exploration technologies and as a way station for lunar and planetary missions.







Международная космическая станция Автоматические космические системы logo fka eng baner rsc-eng "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт" "Морской старт" и "Наземный старт"