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Happy 10th, ISS!

sts126_kozubal_lg.jpgThe image at right is from NASA's often-breathtaking Astronomy Picture of the Day site -- here, showing the Nov. 14, 2008, launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor, en route to the International Space Station, its trail passing directly in front of an almost-full Moon. And today is in some sense the 10th birthday of the ISS: Nov. 20, 1998, saw the launch of the space station's first component, the 42,000-pound Russian Zarya module.

Endeavor also carried the first U.S.-built ISS component into space: Mission STS-88, launched on Dec. 4, 1998, delivered the Unity connecting module and the station's first crew.

So depending on when you think the "moment of conception" occurred, some of you may choose instead to celebrate the station's 10th birthday on Dec. 6 (the first coupling of Unity and Zarya), Dec. 7 (first power-up of Unity), or Dec. 10 (first humans entered the station).

There are more "memorable moments in human spaceflight" on pp. 359-362 of the new 2009 World Almanac -- you can check them out yourself next Tuesday, Nov. 25, when the book goes on sale.

Link: NASA.gov mission archives: STS-88


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