How does the International Space Station work?

– [Jared] The International Space Station is the largest manmade structure in space. It was built in pieces and
then launched into space and assembled in orbit. In this video, I want to
give you a detailed look at the station. We’re gonna look at
each module in the order that they were assembled. We’ll look at the countries involved and the future plans for the station. So if you’re ready, let’s
go build a space station. (electricity buzzing) (explosion pops) (digital music) The International Space Station, or ISS, took many years to become a reality. In 1984, the United
States announced a project called Space Station Freedom. Here’s some drawings of what the original station
might have looked like. It was never actually
built in its original form. There were lots of redesigns, and it’s funding was almost
completely cut by US Congress. Then in 1993, after several
other countries were brought on board, the name was officially changed to the International Space Station. Five years later,
construction begins in space. I’ll show you the complete
construction process, but first, let’s learn a little
bit more about the station. This is the ISS as it looks today. It’s mainly used to
conduct science experiments that can only be done in space. There’s usually six astronauts
on board the station. They generally switch out
about every six months so that no one spends
too much time in space. The station is about the size
of an American football field. It’s located just outside
the Earth’s atmosphere. This is called Low Earth Orbit. It’s not very high up, considering that some satellites orbit way out here. The ISS only takes about 92
minutes to orbit the earth. That’s about 28,000 kilometers per hour. Over time, the ISS will
slowly lose altitude. If nothing was done, the
station would eventually burn up as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. To prevent this, the station
must be periodically reboosted to stay in space. The main countries now
participating are United States, Canada, Russia, Japan and many countries from the European Space Agency. Let’s get to know the
main parts of the station. The Integrated Truss Structure is kind of like the backbone of the station. It holds the solar arrays
to generate electricity, radiator panels, these remove heat from the station, and other equipment and science experiments are also attached. This part down here contains
the pressurized modules, which means the astronauts
can live and work in here without a space suit. All of the Russian modules make up the Russian Orbital Segment. The other side is called the
United States Orbital Segment. It’s made up of modules
from the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada. The different pieces of the
station, also called modules, were built in many
locations around the globe. Each module was then launched into space by one of these three rockets, the American Space Shuttle,
the Russian Proton Rocket and the Russian Soyuz Rocket. Once in space, it’s time
to put it all together. This is definitely not
your average Lego set. Once construction started,
the ISS took a little over a decade before it
was considered complete. Each one of these lines
represents the addition of a new module to the station. Let’s go ahead and start
at the very beginning. The first piece of the station is a Russian
module called Zarya. It provides power from the solar arrays and also propulsion when there’s
a need to move the station. There’s three docking ports
in front and one in back. These will be used to connect to the next pieces of the station. The second module is American, and it’s called Unity, or Node 1. It has six docking ports to
connect to future modules. There’s a special piece here to connect between the different docking mechanisms. This is called a
Pressurized Mating Adapter, or PMA for short. Unity was launched with PMA-1 and PMA-2. This is the Zvezda service module. It provides life support systems and is considered the functional center of the Russian Orbital Segment. It also has three docking
ports in front and one in back. Next is the Z1 Truss. This holds equipment for the station. It’s not part of the main truss, but it provided a
temporary mounting place, as we’ll see here in a moment. PMA-3 was then added to
the bottom side of Unity. It’s always good to have an
extra one of these around. The P6 Truss was temporarily mounted to the top of the Z1 Truss. This includes the first solar array wings. This provides much needed
power to the growing station. Radiator panels were also installed to help remove excess
heat from the station. At this point, there
was enough functionality that astronauts can start
living aboard the station, instead of just temporary visits. From November 2000 until now, there has been a continuous human presence on board the station. The Destiny module is also
called the US Laboratory. This is a place where a lot of
scientific research happens. A little rearranging was necessary so that Destiny could be installed. March 2001 came the addition of the External Stowage
Platform 1, or ESP-1. This was a place to store
spare parts for the station. Canada made a vital
contribution with the Canadarm2. It’s a robotic arm that can help around the outside of the station. It’s usually controlled by an astronaut who’s on the inside of the station. Either end of the arm can be attached to one of these grapple fixtures that you’ll find on various modules. The Quest airlock allows the
astronauts to safely step outside for a few hours to perform an EVA, also known as a spacewalk. This is a Russian module called Pirs. It can be used as an
airlock for spacewalks or as a docking port to
allow visiting spacecraft to attach to the station. Now we get to start building
the integrated truss structure. If you remember from earlier, this is kind of like the
backbone of the station. Our first piece is the S0 Truss, and it gets attached to the
top of the Destiny module. The Mobile remote servicer Base System, or MBS, was added next. This platform can move along the truss. It’s especially useful when
the Canadarm2 is attached. Then the S1 Truss was added
followed by the P1 Truss. The S stands for starboard
and the P stands for port. This way, you know on which
side of the station it’s on. Each side has room for
three more radiator panels. For now, only the center
ones will be installed. ESP-2 was added to the station right next to the Quest airlock. This is the P3/P4 Truss
segments with solar arrays and another radiator panel. The tiny P5 Truss goes at the end here. To balance out the station, we’ll have to retract a few panels. The following year, the other sides of the truss were added as well. ESP-3 goes down here. And then the P6 Truss can be moved to its final resting place. It’s also time to deploy a
few more radiator panels. The Harmony module is also called Node 2. It will be attached to the
forward end of Destiny. But first, we have to do
some more rearranging. Harmony has six docking
ports which will allow for further expansion of the station. Next comes the Columbus module, which is a European laboratory. Now we get some more robotics
also built by Canada. This is a space robot called Dextre. It can attach to the same grapple fixtures that are used by the Canadarm2. In fact, Dextre is most
useful when it’s attached to the end of the Canadarm2. The largest module is the
Japanese Experiment Module, also known as Kibo. It came up to the station
in several pieces. It even has its own robotic arm. Finally, we have the S6 Truss, the last of the truss segments. Now we’re starting to look a little more
like the space station. These solar arrays will be rotated so that they face towards the sun. This helps the arrays generate
more power for the station. The Japanese Experiment
Module has one last addition. It’s called the Japanese Exposed Facility. This allows research to be
conducted in the vacuum of space. The Russian module Poisk
is very similar to Pirs. It was another place for
Russian spacecraft to dock. This is the first ExPRESS
Logistic Carrier, or ELC-1. This is a place to store hardware to help the station work correctly. ELC-2 was installed on
top of the truss here. The Tranquility module,
also known as Node 3, is added to the side of Unity. On the bottom side of
Tranquility is a small room called the Cupola. This has seven windows
from which to see the view. Each window has a cover that can be closed when they are not in use. Then came another Russian
module called Rassvet. This was used for storage
and as another docking port. The Leonardo module is used for storage of supplies and waste. The trash will build up here until it can be removed from the station. Here’s ELC-3 and -4. This is a science experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. It’s used to study rare
particles such as antimatter. A more recent addition to the station is called the Bigelow
Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM for short. It takes up a small amount
of space during launch and then inflated once
attached to the station. BEAM is an experiment to see if this kind of technology can work. The ISS only has funding through 2025. But hopefully, that will be extended. After that, we may see pieces
of the station repurposed for other projects in space. I want to thank my supporters on Patreon for helping me make this video. This won’t be the last time
you’ll see an animation from me about the
International Space Station. Stay tuned and let me know what you want to see next, in the comments below. I’m Jared Owen. Thanks for watching. (gentle music)

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