Zarya (means “sunrise” in Russian) is the first module of the International Space Station to be launched. It signified the dawn of a new era of international cooperation in space, hence the name. Although it was built by a Russian company, it is owned by the United States.
Zarya was launched on 20 November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 81 in Kazakhstan.
Also known as Node-1, Unity was the first U.S.-built component of the ISS. It was carried into orbit as the primary cargo of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-88, the first Space Shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the station. On December 6, 1998, the STS-88 crew mated the aft berthing port of Unity with the forward hatch of the already orbiting Zarya module.
Zvezda (means “star” in Russian), DOS-8, also known as the Zvezda Service Module, was the third module launched to the ISS, and provides all of the station’s life support systems, as well as living quarters for two crew members. It is the structural and functional center of the Russian portion of the station – the Russian Orbital Segment.
Zvezda was launched on July 12, 2000, and docked with the Zarya module on July 26.
Zvezda contains the European Space Agency’s Digital Management System, a computer that controls ISS.
The module is also the home of the Lada Greenhouse, which is a test for growing plants in space.
The Destiny module, also known as the US Lab, is the primary operating facility for U.S. research payloads aboard the ISS. It was berthed to the Unity module and activated over a period of five days in February 2001. Destiny is NASA’s first permanent operating orbital research station since Skylab was vacated in February 1974.
The Nadir window of Destiny module supports the crew taking Earth observations/images. According to NASA, it has the highest quality optics ever flown on a human-occupied spacecraft.
Also known as Node 2, Harmony is the “utility hub” of the International Space Station. The hub contains four racks that provide electrical power, plus electronic data and act as a central connecting point for several other components.
Harmony was launched October 23, 2007, aboard STS-120, The name was chosen from a competition involving more than 2,200 kindergarten through high school students from 32 US states.
Columbus is a science laboratory and is the largest single contribution to the ISS made by the European Space Agency (ESA).
Like the Harmony and Tranquility modules, it was constructed in Turin, Italy by Thales Alenia Space.
The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed Kibo (means Hope in Japan), is a Japanese science module for the International Space Station (ISS) developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It is the largest single ISS module and is attached to the Harmony module. The first two pieces of the module were launched on Space Shuttle missions STS-123 and STS-124. The third and final components were launched on STS-127.
Tranquility, also known as Node 3 was launched on On February 8, 2010, by NASA. European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency had Tranquility built by Thales Alenia Space, Europe’s largest satellite manufacturer.
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