Sunlight glints off the International Space Station with the blue limb of Earth providing a dramatic backdrop in this photo taken by an astronaut on the shuttle Endeavour just before it docked after midnight on Feb. 10, 2010 during the STS-130 mission.
The Russian-built Zarya Control Module was the first piece of the International Space Station (ISS) to take flight in 1998. Here it sits alone in space waiting for additional components and eventual human habitation. The module provides battery power, fuel storage and rendezvous and docking capability for Soyuz and Progress space vehicles.
The Unity node (in payload bay at bottom) is connected to the International Space Station's (ISS) Russian-built Zarya Control Module (top) during the STS-88 flight aboard NASA's Endeavour space shuttle in December 1998 and was the second major piece to join the orbital outpost.
The Russian-built Zvezda Service Module (at top with spacecraft attached) was launched atop a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on July 12, 2000. The Zvezda provides living quarters and performs some life support system functions for the International Space Station.
Launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on Oct. 11, 2000, the STS-92 astronauts installed the Z1-Truss at the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the Z1 are four Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) that provide the International Space Station's attitude control. A third pressurized mating adapter was installed on the Unity Node, providing an additional Shuttle docking port. A Ku-band antenna provides television capability.
The space shuttle Endeavour launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Nov. 30, 2000, where astronauts installed the P6 truss and the platform's wing-like solar arrays during NASA's STS-97 orbiter mission.
A close-up of the large tear and a smaller rip (to right of larger one) on the one of two Port 6 solar wings on the International Space Station.
The Italian-built Harmony connecting node and its PMA-2 shuttle docking port hang off the end of the International Space Station's robotic arm during a Nov. 14, 2007 move by the Expedition 16 crew
Backdropped by Earth's horizon and the blackness of space, the International Space Station is seen from space shuttle Endeavour as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation on March 24, 2008 during NASA's STS-123 mission. Japan's new Kibo ("hope" in Japanese) storage module appears as the squat cylinder atop the central module in this view.
Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM), is seen in the grasp of the International Space Station's robotic arm while Space Shuttle Endeavour is docked with the station.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov (in red striped spacesuit) works on the International Space Station's new Poisk module to activate its docking port systems in a spacewalk on Jan. 14, 2010.
STS-130 shuttle pilot Terry Virts (bottom), mission specialist Stephen Robinson (top right)and station astronaut Soichi Noguchi of Japan are pictured in the newly-installed Tranquility node of the International Space Station while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station on Feb. 14, 2010.
The International Space Station's new Cupola observation dome is seen with all seven of its window shutters open on Feb. 17, 2010 after a spacewalk to unlock its launch restraints during NASA's STS-130 mission.
Atlantis astronauts attach the new Russian-built Rassvet ("Dawn") module to an Earth-facing port of the Zarya module of the International Space Station on May 18, 2010. Rassvet is the second in a series of new pressurized components for Russia.
The International Space Station continues to grow. A new storage closet and Russian laboratory are expected to complete the station by 2011, when NASA's shuttle fleet retires.
NASA's Destiny laboratory forms the backbone of the U.S. science presence aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Destiny module (backdropped against the Earth at bottom) appears here in a photograph by the STS-98 astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, who delivered the lab to the ISS after a Feb. 7, 2001 launch.
The International Space Station (ISS) received a new robotic arm, UHF antenna and science racks for the Destiny laboratory after the arrival of the STS-100 astronaut crew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on April 21, 2001.
The International Space Station (ISS) awaits the addition of more modules and support elements in this image taken by the STS-114 shuttle crew aboard Discovery Aug. 6, 2005. Discovery and its crew launched on July 26, 2005, more than two years after NASA grounded its shuttle fleet following the Columbia disaster. Discovery is slated to again visit the ISS during STS-121, a second test flight scheduled to visit the station no earlier than May 2006. The next construction flight – STS-115 – is slated to launch later.
A trio of space shuttle flights resumed construction of the International Space Station following delays related to the 2003 Columbia accident. In September, spacewalkers installed a massive pair of trusses and two broad solar wings to power the station. A December mission launched to rewire the outpost's power grid, install a new truss piece and swap out one station crewmember.
Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, the International Space Station is seen from the shuttle Atlantis as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation on Feb. 18, 2008. The European Columbus lab is visible jutting from the ISS at upper right