The ISS is the largest, most complex international scientific project in history and our largest adventure into space to date. The ISS was designated a National Lab in 2005. As a research outpost, the station is a test bed for future technologies and a research laboratory for new, advanced industrial materials, communications technology, medical research, and much more.
Boeing is the prime contractor to NASA for the ISS. In addition to designing and building all the major U.S. elements, Boeing also is responsible for ensuring the successful integration of new hardware and software -- including components from international partners -- as well as for providing sustaining engineering work.
The completion of mission STS-119 in March 2009 included the successful installation of the Starboard-6 (S6) truss segment and final set of solar arrays. That mission marked the completion of the U.S. "core" of the station and delivered the last major U.S., Boeing-built element. The successful activation of the final set of solar arrays allowed the ISS the capability of full power utilization and doubled -- from 15 to 30 kilowatts -- the amount of power available for key science projects.
In March of 2010, Boeing officially turned over the U.S. on-orbit segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to NASA with the signing of government form DD-250 at the conclusion of an Acceptance Review Board meeting in Houston. Often referred to as "handing over the keys," the DD-250 is equivalent to a final bill of sale that formally transfers ownership. Through the review board, NASA and Boeing verified the delivery, assembly, integration and activation of all hardware and software required by contract.
Also in March, the ISS program received the distinguished Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) as well as the 2010 Laureate Award in the category of Space from Aviation Week.
The Collier Trophy is awarded annually to honor the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in the United States. The NAA stated the program was being recognized "For the design, development, and assembly of the of the world's largest spacecraft, an orbiting laboratory that promises new discoveries for mankind and sets new standards for international cooperation in space."
For the Laureate Award, the program was recognized for its major completion with the addition of the last major modules and the expansion of the crew to six in 2009. Aviation Week stated that "the ISS is arguably the signature engineering achievement of the last 60 years. By working together, partner agencies demonstrated that the station is as much an achievement in foreign relations as it is in aerospace engineering."
- The U.S. solar array surface area is 38,400 square feet, which is large enough to cover eight basketball courts (94 ft x 50 ft x 8 = 37,600 sq ft). The solar array surface area could cover the U.S. Senate Chamber three times over.
- The final pair of solar arrays were delivered in March 2009 and brought the total surface area of solar areas to almost an acre (.88 acre).
- The solar array wingspan (240 ft) is longer than that of a Boeing 777 200/300 model, which is 212 ft.
- ISS now has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house.
Boeing continues to play an integral part in the construction of the ISS. For more information, read the International Space Station (ISS) (PDF) overview.