Laying a Foundation

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Laying a Foundation

LAUNCH CONTROL: Main engine start, six engines up and running. And lift-off! Lift-off of the Proton rocket and the Zarya control module. The International Space Station is under way.

The International Space Station was born 25 years ago today. The first piece of the station was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was built and launched by Russia, but paid for by the United States.

For years, it provided control, crew quarters, and storage. Today, it’s mainly a storage locker.

Zarya is a Russian word for “sunrise.” The module was based on the design of the first series of Russian space stations, called Salyut. It’s a steel can more than 40 feet long. It weighed more than 20 tons at launch, plus several tons of propellants.

It wasn’t alone for long. Space shuttle Endeavour delivered the second module, known as Unity, a couple of weeks later. Astronauts used a robotic arm to attach the two pieces. It took a couple of years for the station to really start to take shape, though. Today, it consists of dozens of major pieces. In all, they span more than the length of a football field, with a total mass of almost a million pounds.

But it all started with a single large can, delivered to orbit 25 years ago today.
LAUNCH CONTROL: 30 seconds into the flight, good first-stage performance. The Proton delivering 1.9 million pounds of thrust from its six engines.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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