Thales Alenia Space is celebrating its milestone 20th anniversary of the International Space Station (ISS), the most extensive scientific collaboration in history for peaceful purposes.
The first ISS crew took up their posts on November 2, 2000, two years after the start of construction. The first module was launched on November 20, 1998.
Bringing together the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and European Space Agency countries, this programme has led to the construction of the largest spacecraft ever, a permanent human outpost that occupies an area as large as a football field, with a habitable volume of more than 1,200 cubic meters, more than 40% of which is supplied by Thales Alenia Space.
The company has provided fully half of the pressurised volume on the International Space Station, including Nodes 2 and 3, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Multipurpose Logistics Modules, the Cupola and the Columbus lab structure, along with cargo modules for the ATV resupply vessels and the structure for the Bishop commercial airlock from NanoRacks.
Since November 2000, 241 individuals from 19 countries have visited the ISS, conducting over 2,500 medical, chemical, physical and biological experiments in microgravity.
It took more than 50 missions by all kinds of launch vehicles to assemble the 100 major parts of this technological tour de force – one of the most complex and impressive structures ever built.
Above all, it meant putting aside the lingering tensions of the Cold War and the space race to deliver the best technologies from across the globe into orbit.
From December 1998 to March 2019, for instance, some 78,514 kilos of research equipment was lofted to the station and 23,559 kg were sent back to earth.