International Space Station

International Space Station

In August 1993, NASA selected Boeing as prime contractor for the International Space Station, a permanent orbiting laboratory in space and the largest international space venture ever undertaken. With a "space footprint" the size of two football fields, the space station averages an altitude of 220 statute miles.

As the prime contractor, Boeing is responsible for design, development, construction and integration of the ISS and assisting NASA in operating the orbital outpost. Boeing built all of the major U.S. elements. In addition, Boeing oversees thousands of subcontractors around the globe and works with 16 international partners on the project.

The company also prepares every ISS U.S. component for space flight at the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. About 2,100 Boeing people across the country support the space station. Boeing employees in Houston, Huntsville, Ala., Huntington Beach, Calif., and Kennedy Space Center work with NASA on the ISS project.

The overwhelming success of the ISS program and its on-orbit vehicle performance have further substantiated Boeing's core competency as a large-scale system integrator. The complex integration effort includes hardware and software from 16 countries, 37 states and an estimated more than 10,000 first- to fourth-tier suppliers, often with first-time integration occurring on orbit.

Between 1998 and 2005, 12 major ISS components were assembled in space. Scientific research was being conducted aboard the ISS in the U.S. laboratory dubbed Destiny, which holds 24 of the 120 telephone booth-sized racks used for science experiments and ISS equipment. The space shuttle and Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles bring experiments up and down.

In addition to the laboratory, the ISS has living quarters aboard the Russian-built Zvezda Service Module. The crew can also make spacewalks from the U.S.-built Joint Airlock called Quest. There is also an airlock on the Zvezda module. The 300-foot long Integrated Truss Structure and solar arrays, which currently comprise 892 square meters, generate electrical power for the space station. When completed, the one-acre of solar panels will provide up to 110 kilowatts of power.

Boeing systems and software groups produced about 1.5 million lines of flightware code running on 44 computers that communicate via 100 data networks to transfer 400,000 signals (e.g., pressure, temperature measurements, valve positions, etc.) that are necessary to operate the ISS. The software helps drives the Russian- and U.S.-built Guidance, Navigation and Control System.

On Nov. 2, 2005, the International Space Station clocked its fifth year of providing a continuous human presence in space. It had grown and evolved into a 404,069-pound (183,283-kg) laboratory complex with 15,000 cubic feet (425 m3) of habitable volume. Eighty-nine scientific investigations had been conducted on the ISS, which has a microgravity environment that cannot be duplicated on Earth.

International Space Station home page

First launch: Nov. 20, 1998 (Zarya)
Classification: Orbiting space laboratory
Height: 143 feet
Length: 290 feet
Width: 356 feet
Weight: One million pounds
Living and working space: More than 46,000 cubic feet
Average orbit altitude: 220 miles, at an inclination of 51.6 degrees to the Equator
Accommodation: 7 crew