A space station is a man-made structure that is designed for people to live on. A space station is distinguished from other manned spacecraft by its lack of major propulsion or landing facilities - instead, other vehicles are used as transport to and from the station. Space stations are designed for medium-term living in orbit, for periods of some months.
Space stations are used to study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body as well as to provide platforms for greater number and length of scientific studies than available on other space vehicles.
Past and present space stations:
Since the flight of Skylab 2, all manned spaceflight duration records have been set aboard space stations. The duration record of 437.7 days was set aboard Mir in 1994-1995. As of 2003, 3 astronauts have completed single missions of over a year, all aboard the space station Mir.
Some space station designs have been proposed which are intended as long-term space habitats for large numbers of people, essentially "cities in space" where people would make their homes. Thus far all such designs are only hypothetical, and have never been seriously considered for actual implementation.
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Comprehensive and updated resource on ISS by NASA. Includes operational news, wide range of background material, archives, image gallery and planned missions.
Marshall Space Flight Center
Provides a fact sheet outlining the center's role in the space station, in particular payload operations and microgravity research.
Space Station Science Operations
Features news and overview of all scientific experiments onboard the station. Includes a variety of background material and links.
Provides news briefs and links related to the station with emphasis on radio amateurs. Includes call signs of astronauts.
Provides a compilation of current status, crew and plans for the construction of the station and its elements.
The Automated Transfer Vehicle
Includes project overview, news and events from the team in the European Space Agency managing the development of this supply spacecraft for the station.
Data Management System
Provides factsheet for the DMS-R computers, in the Russian Service Module 'Zvezda', providing the overall control of the Russian segment.
Provides design and project overview of the main observation post on the station.
Node 2: Connecting Module
Offers data sheets on the module connection the truss structure and the US laboratory to other elements.
Node 3: Connecting Module
Offers data sheets on the module that connects elements and house a number of life support systems.
The European Robotic Arm
Provides project overview and data on the walking robot planned to service the Russian segment.
Provides comprehensive project overview and news from the prime Russian ISS contractor, with emphasis on the Russian elements.
Features overview of a French center for microgravity experiments and space station utilization. Includes list of past missions.
Potomac Institute Commercialization Study
Features a report resulting from a NASA grant to a policy studies organization. [PDF 303K/82 pages]
Overview of ISS activities and news by a German provider. Includes mission, crew aspects and supporting material.
Provides a collection of briefs and multimedia material compiled from other web sources.
Features the prime contractor's overview of the design, its assembly sequence in space and scientific use.
Space Today Online
Offers e-zine with comprehensive news and coverage of all aspects of space stations by a space writer. Includes historical material on previous stations.
The History of Space Stations
Features a brief history article on the space stations by a writer and space professional.
Provides overview of the shuttle mission with Chris Hadfield that delivered the Canadian robot arm to the space station in 2001.
How Space Stations Work
Illustrated tutorial about what a space station looks like, what will it be like to live and work in space, and what problems are involved in building one.
CBC News: The International Space Station
News article with particular emphasis on the Canadian role.
CBC News: Canadarm2
News account providing an in-depth look at the new Canadian robot arm for the space station.
Offers summaries of the construction and expeditions to the space station, by an author specializing in Russian space history.
Scientific American: Missed Deadlines
News article about difficulties with the Russian participation (1998).
ESA - Human Space Flight
Features overview of European participation in the International Space Station, with projects, news and events.
Belgian International Space Station User Support Center
Provides contacts, documentation, news and events for the scientific users of the space station.
Provides comprehensive space station news coverage by a television producer. Includes picture galleries, virtual tours.
Earth Sciences and Image Analysis
Includes a searchable, updated database of Earth photos made from the space station's windows.
Space Station User's Guide
Includes updated news on all aspects of the space station from an on-line news provider.
Houston Chronicle: Space Station
Provides regular news coverage and an archive of ISS-related articles from a newspaper in Texas.
Kennedy Space Center
Offers overview of the ISS payload and system launch processing. Includes outreach, multimedia and live feeds from the Space Station Processing Facility.
PBS - Space Station : The Series
Offers an overview of a television series. Includes a variety of supporting material for the public.
The Columbus Laboratory
Includes project overview, news and events from the team in the European Space Agency managing the development of this module of the ISS.
Facility Support Center for BIOLAB
Contains overview of a facility in Switzerland supporting users of the BIOLAB experiment.
The Crew Return Vehicle
Overview of a project to develop a manned spacecraft to return the crew to Earth in case of an emergency.
Human Presence in Space
Offers an overview and updates on the ISS project with emphasis on the Canadian participation. Includes links to information about the Canadian Space Agency, its projects, and Canadian astronauts.
Offers current and past station official status reports. Provided by the flight operations authority.
Future of Canadian Space Exploration
Includes a brief introduction on Canada's involvement in the space station.
CNN - City in Space
News coverage from CNN. Includes interactive multimedia.