Space Station, International (Encyclopedia of Science)
The International Space Station (ISS) is a permanent Earth-orbiting laboratory that will allow humans to perform long-term research in outer space. Led by the United States, the ISS draws upon the scientific and technological resources of sixteen nations. When completed in 2006, it will be the largest and most complex international scientific project in history.
The International Space Station had its beginnings in the cold war rivalry (period of silent conflict and tension) that existed between the United States and the then Soviet Union (also called the U.S.S.R.) from the 1950s to the 1990s. Although the United States was the first to put a man on the Moon (1969), the Soviet Union came to specialize in and dominate the field of long-term human spaceflight. As early as 1971, they successfully launched the world's first orbiting space station (Salyut 1) and continued nearly uninterrupted through the 1990s. Where the United States has placed only one space station in orbit (Skylab in 1973) and sent only three crews of three astronauts to live there (none longer than eighty-four days), the Soviet Union gained valuable space station experience by regularly shuttling crews to its three generations of stations. One crew member remained in space for a 438-day tour.
Around the mid-1980s, the United States decided to compete...
(The entire section is 1492 words.)
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