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International Space Station Timeline Flash Video

This is amazing.  Just how did they go about putting this thing together, anyway?
That's pretty cool Tin, thanks!

Nice.  I didn't know USA Today had  that.  NASA has another one, but I can't find it at the moment.  Instead, you can look at this gallery of actual station photos taken after each stage of construction:


The ISS is an international endeavor, but one that primarily relies on the US shuttle fleet to build.  With the exception of the Russian components, which were launched seperately, each module of the space station is flown by a shuttle.  This includes not only the liveable portions (including the European and Japanese contributions), but the exterior truss and solar arrays.  The last mission, in fact, delivered the last set of solar arrays giving it its current symmetrical look.  

Still remaining on the manifest are a component of the  Japanese module, the now famous Node 3, and several resupply and 'spare parts' deliveries, which will be important once the shuttle is retired and can no longer service the station.  The Russians have had several plans to launch a few more of their own components, but it's really hard to determine through press clippings what exactly, if anything, they're actually going to do.

In addition to the shuttles, station is serviced by Russian cargo vehicles called "Progress," which launch every three months or so.  They deliver supplies and are refilled with garbage while on orbit.  Once no longer needed, they undock and burn up in the atmosphere.  New to the fleet is Europe's ATV (automated transfer vehicle) which operates very much like a Progress.  It is the first craft of its kind to be built by the Europeans.  

Yet another cargo vehicle, the Japanese HTV, will come into service later this year.... also a first of its kind spacecraft for that nation.  Once launched, it will actually be 'caught' by the station's (Canada built) robotic arm and manually docked to the US portion of the station.  

Once the shuttles retire next year US astronauts will rely on Russian Soyuz's for transport to and from the station until Orion's debut in (hopefully) 2014.  It'll be a long four years.

Sorry for the dissertation here... this is just a subject that I'm really excited about, and wish more people in this country knew about and could be proud of.  Spaceflight is important!

EDIT -- Found the video.  It *is* a video file, so depending on your browser you may be prompted to do something.


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