When fully assembled, the 500-ton International Space Station (ISS) will house a crew of six or seven in 46,000 cubic feet of pressurized volume (rough equivalent: one Boeing 747 jet liner ) in six labs, two habitation modules and two logistics modules. It will measure 356-ft. across and 290-ft. long.
More than 100 ISS elements will be joined during 45 missions using the Space Shuttle and Russia's Soyuz, Zenit and Proton rockets, as well as its Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. They'll be hefting nearly 500 tons of structures, equipment and supplies into orbit. More space walks will be required in five years of assembly than the combined total of spacewalks since that word entered the lexicon in the early 1960s.
Like any modern research building, the ISS has a frame, labs and living areas, water and power systems -- and places to park. The frame is a bridge-like linear truss. Cylinder-shaped facilities where scientists and others work and reside are attached to it, as will be almost two football-fields' worth of solar arrays for power at completion.
The crews who fly personnel, supplies, and food and water to the ISS park their space vehicles at one of several docking stations. Those who stay overnight eat better than anyone has in any prior space program. They drink water developed by Shuttle fuel cells and recycled from showers and shaves. It is purer than that of many cities.
The ISS whizzes around the planet at 17,500 mph, completing one orbit every 90 minutes -- about the time it takes to drive from Hollywood to Disneyland. Its altitude ranges from 208 to 285 miles, about the distance from Washington, D.C. to New York and Boston respectively.
NASA ISS Assembly Sequence (Consolidated Launch Manifest)
For additional information, check out the Flash video representation of ISS assembly