Photo Credit: Astronaut Paolo Nespoli on May 23, 2011 from the window of TMA-20 as Expedition 27 Astronauts/Cosmonaut undocked and headed for home. Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134) was docked at the time. CLICK for amazing full size photo and look below for links and incredible videos.

Before I begin if you ever want to look for the ISS flying overhead or attempt a photo of it passing in front of the Sun or Moon (SAFELY), here’s my write up for best ISS spotting resources: https://danspace77.com/iss-tracking/

On November 20, 1998 at 0640 UTC (0140 EST) the Zarya Module (Functional Cargo Block or FCB) launched into orbit on the shoulders of a Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) Proton Rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazahkstan and the International Space Station opened its eyes to its first “sunrise” which is what Zarya means in Russian.
Just two weeks later on December 4, 1998 Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-88) delivered Node-1 or the Unity Node into orbit and on December 6 they were mated for the first time. Since then the ISS has grown to a structure the size of a football field and is almost three times the size of Space Station Mir at a roomy 32,333 cubic ft. of interior. The solar array covers 38,400 square ft. and each stretch 240 ft. Its computers always keep them pointed in the direction of the sun just like flowers here on Earth to maximize energy capture.
The first crew or Expedition 1; NASA Astronaut and Commander Bill Shepherd and two Russian Cosmonauts; Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gizdenko were delivered on Halloween, October 31, 2000 on a Soyuz rocket. What a striking coincidence that the first American in the ISS was named Shepherd which is the same last name (Though different spelling) of the first American in space Alan Shepard. And on the Russian side……A YURI after the first man in space Yuri Gagarin and a SERGEI after the head of the Soviet space program at the time and genius spaceflight visionary; Sergei Korolev. Now let me be clear, these are connections that I made myself and just because it’s similar doesn’t mean those names were actively planned. Though it would be cool if it were!

So the next time you get a chance, get outside and wave or say Happy Birthday to the single greatest multi-national collaboration that isn’t WAR; our beautiful International Space Station.

NASA 15 Years of the ISS page: http://www.nasa.gov/content/celebrating-15-years-since-the-sunrise/#.UowiY8Ssim4

NASA 15 Years of the ISS Infographic: http://www.nasa.gov/content/infographic-15-years-of-the-international-space-station/index.html#.UowiO8Ssim4

European Space Agency (ESA) page on the 15th birthday of the ISS: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Celebrate_the_Space_Station_s_15th_birthday

NASA page on the Zarya Module: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/fgb.html#.Uowj5MSsim4

NASA page on the Unity Module (Node-1): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/node1.html#.UowkB8Ssim4

NASA Collection for this photo set: https://danspace77.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/13-318.jpg

European Space Agency (ESA) Flickr for this photoset: http://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/sets/72157626913126676/

NASA ISS Mission Page: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/#.UowpncSsim4

NASA ISS image & video page: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/multimedia/index.html#.Uowp0cSsim4

All of the ISS photos you will EVER need: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/index.html

The ACTUAL VIDEO from the photo that I featured:

All Alone in the Night:

View from the ISS at night (Put together by Knate Meyers):

ISS Our Future is Together:

Suni Williams ISS Tour:

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