Where is the module located? Location

Who were the crew that delivered the module? Crew that delivered it

ISS age in:

Days 0
Sunrises 0

Living Space

Exploring the sights and sounds of the International Space Station's human-habitable modules, where they came from and who lives in them


IIB Studio for BBC Future
Zarya model

Sixteen sunrises

The Sun rises on the International Space Station (ISS) every 92 minutes - that's about 16 sunrises a day during which astronauts can view Earth's thin atmosphere in colourful detail.

Functional Cargo Block

Zarya (Russian for "sunrise") was the first space station module to arrive on the ISS, launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site in Kazakhstan. It initially provided power, communications and attitude control functions, but is now used mainly for storage and propulsion.

Key stats

thrustthrust storagestorage
length 12.6m diameter 4.1m
weight 19,323kg or
Khrunichev Space Centre, Russia
Unity model Spacewalkers

Space diving

There have been around 188 spacewalks since Unity was connected. Spacewalks are conducted when intricate work and repairs are needed. They can last for around seven hours, and the experience is said to be very similar to scuba diving.

The First Connector: Node 1

Unity transports fluids and gases for the station's Environmental Control and Life Support System. This recycles the crew's urine into clean water and generates some 5kg of oxygen a day. On 7 December 1998 the first spacewalk around the ISS took place, to connect Unity to Zarya.

Key stats

length 5.5m diameter 4.3m
weight 11,895kg or
Boeing, US

Space jam - crew wake up call

The Unity crew members got going to Get Ready by The Temptations, their hit song from 1966.

Zvezda model

Keep fit class

Crew must exercise for two hours a day, to prevent bone and muscle loss in the microgravity environment.

The Service Module

Zvezda introduced the first living quarters to the space station. It houses a treadmill, exercise bike and freezer and remains the centre of the Russian part of the space station.

Key stats

thrustthrust powerpower maintenancemaintenance livingliving
length 13.1m diameter 4.1m
weight 19,323kg or
RSC Energia, Russia
Crew arriving

The very first Expedition One crew had three members: American Nasa astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. The space station has been continuously occupied ever since.

Destiny model Dennis Tito

Ticket to ride

Less than six months after the first crew arrived, the space station welcomed its first tourist, US multi-millionaire, Dennis Tito. He's thought to have paid about US$20m (£14m) for his ride.

The US Laboratory Module

Destiny was the first research module to arrive at the space station. It continues to provide the bulk of the space station's research, as well as command and control capabilities.

Key stats

length 8.5m diameter 4.3m
weight 14,515kg or
Boeing, US

Space jam - crew wake up call

This crew's musical alarm was Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men, played in honour of Commander Ken Cockrell, who previously flew on a Shuttle mission with astronauts dubbed the "Dog Crew".

Quest model Pizza Delivery

Who ordered pizza?

Pizza Hut made a delivery to the space station in 2001. Salami was used as a topping instead of pepperoni (which wouldn't have lasted long enough). Extra salt and spices were also added, as spending a long time in space has the effect of deadening taste buds.

The Joint Airlock

The arrival of the Quest airlock meant that spacewalks from the space station were now possible for both US 'Extravehicular Mobility Unit' spacesuits and Russian 'Orlan' spacesuits. Before, spacewalks were limited to those using Orlan suits or starting from docked Space Shuttles.

Key stats

length 5.5m diameter 4m
weight 9,923kg or
Boeing, US

Space jam - crew wake up call

Bob Marley's 1975 hit No Woman, No Cry was Mick Gernhart's pick of the pops for the 13-track wake-up call playlist.

Pirs model

Picking up the crumbs

Most food in space is tinned or dehydrated. Astronauts can also eat items like fresh fruit, but other food such as bread is avoided, as errant crumbs can float up their noses and into computers.

The Docking Compartment

Pirs provides a docking port and airlock for Russian spacecraft and spacesuits. It's scheduled to be detached and destroyed during atmospheric re-entry in 2017, to make room for a new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, Nauka.

Key stats

length 4.9m diameter 2.6m
weight 3,838kg or
RSC Energia, Russia
Columbia badge

Seven people died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February 2003. It led to a two and a half-year suspension of the US Space Shuttle programme and construction of the ISS was halted.

Harmony model Coffee maker

Morning ISSpresso

Whilst Harmony increased working space, the crew were still drinking coffee from plastic bags. This finally changed when a microgravity coffee machine and six zero-G coffee cups were delivered to the space station on 20 April 2015.

Node 2

Harmony increased the living and working space of the ISS by almost 20% (from 420 m3 to 500.2 m3). Its internal connecting port and passageway allowed for the arrival of new research laboratories. It won its name from a competition in 2007, making it the first piece of the ISS to be named by the general public.

Key stats

powerpower maintenancemaintenance livingliving
length 6.7m diameter 4.3m
weight 14,768kg or
Italian Space Agency, Italy

Space jam - crew wake up call

Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest, from 1973 was on the wake-up playlist for this crew.

Columbus model

Alien ants

The behaviour of eight 100-strong ant colonies were analysed on the space station in 2014. Scientists found that the ants were surprisingly good at adapting to zero gravity and still managed to use teamwork for searching.

The European Research Laboratory

The Columbus lab supports scientific and technological research on the ISS. Experiments have ranged from the science of ageing to finding better ways to manufacture metals. The lab holds 10 "racks" of experiment equipment, each about the size of a phone booth.

Key stats

length 7.0m diameter 4.6m
weight 10,297kg or
European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co

Space jam - crew wake up call

The Spamalot version of Always Look on the Bright Side brought this crew to life in the morning.

Kibo ELM-PS model

Keep it clean

There are no showers in space. Instead, astronauts wash daily using damp towels and no-rinse shampoo.

The Experiment Logistics Module

The Kibo logistics module (cargo bay) was the first human-habitable component of the Kibo Laboratory to arrive at the space station. It serves as a storage area for experiments.

Key stats

maintenancemaintenance storagestorage
length 3.7m diameter 4.4m
weight 4,200kg or
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd

Space jam - crew wake up call

Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers helped the crew rock and roll out of bed.

Kibo JEM-PM model Kibo JEM-PM model

To the ISS, and beyond!

Space Ranger "Buzz Lightyear" joined this flight as part of a programme run by Nasa, Disney and Pixar to help interest young people in exploration and discovery through a series of themed games. Buzz stayed there for 450 days.

The Japanese Experiment Module

The Kibo pressurised module (a laboratory) serves as a research facility, providing astronauts with an environment in which to conduct microgravity experiments and control the Kibo Robotic Arm.

Key stats

researchresearch storagestorage
length 11.2m diameter 4.4m
weight 15,898kg or
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd

Space jam - crew wake up call

Baby, Won't You Please Come Home was picked by crew member Garrett Reisman's wife. He dedicated the song to his wife: 'A special good morning to Simone, my favourite Earthling'.

Poisk model

Gardeners' out of this world

Red romaine lettuce leaves were grown by the space station team using a portable greenhouse, which can be moved between modules.

The Mini-Research Module 2

Poisk is almost identical to the Pirs module and provides a docking port and airlock for Russian spacecraft and spacesuits, as well as additional space for science experiments.

Key stats

maintenancemaintenance researchresearch
length 4.9m diameter 2.6m
weight 3,795kg or
RSC Energia, Russia
Cupola model Cupola model

Chris played guitar

In May 2013, commander Chris Hadfield shot a music video of David Bowie's Space Oddity on board the station. It was the first music video ever to be filmed in space.

The Observational Module

Cupola is a bit like a control cabin on top of a building crane: it's a panoramic control tower used for observing and guiding operations outside the station and helps with the attachment and assembly of various station elements.

Key stats

length 1.4m diameter 3m
weight 1,876kg or
Thales Alenia Italy, Italy

Space jam - crew wake up call

Window on the World by Jimmy Buffett was the crew's morning jam. As Endeavour mission specialist Kay Hire put it, "That song is very appropriate today, on a day that we'll be working on opening our new window on the world."

Tranquility model Tranquility model

A Potus poser

On 1 August 2015, Scott Kelly was hosting a Q&A session on Twitter when he received a question from a particularly notable space fan asking if he ever "freaked out" when looking out the window of the space station. How did Scott answer?

Node 3

Tranquility provides additional docking ports for vehicles visiting the station along with additional room for crew members, workstations and storage space.

Key stats

livingliving researchresearch storagestorage
length 6.7m diameter 4.3m
weight 17,992kg or
Thales Alenia Italy, Italy

Space jam - crew wake up call

Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, AKA the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey roused crew members with its unmistakable opening bars. (You'll know it when you hear it.)

Rassvet module

Don't cry for me

In space, tears don't fall. Whilst astronauts' eyes can make tears as on Earth, the tears stick as a kind of liquid ball, and can even sting a bit.

The Mini-Research Module 1

Rassvet is mainly used for cargo storage and as a docking port for visiting spacecraft.

Key stats

length 6.0m diameter 2.3m
weight 5,075kg or
RSC Energia, Russia

Space jam - crew wake up call

Steve Bowen picked the Wallace and Gromit theme tune for this crew's wake-up call playlist. Hopefully he's never tried eating the Moon, like Wallace.

Zynga model

Robonaut arrives

Robonaut, the dexterous space station robot, arrived at the same time as the PMM. Robonaut was initially a torso, but in 2014 received a set of legs that will eventually enable him to conduct a spacewalk.

The Permanent Multipurpose Module

This module began life in 2001 as a logistics carrier, transporting cargo to and from the space station. In 2011 it was converted into a permanent, pressurised component that can hold up to 16 racks of equipment, experiments and supplies.

Key stats

researchresearch storagestorage
length 6.7m diameter 4.3m
weight 9,896kg or
Italian Space Agency, Italy

Space jam - crew wake up call

Spaceship Superstar by Prism was one of the wake-up tracks. It was chosen for the crew members by the team of flight controllers.

ISS model

It's the most expensive thing ever built, as of 2015

Space Station
Large Hadron

It weighs 419,454kg - that's about 227 cars

227 cars

It's fast. Could go to the Moon and back in about a day

Boeing 747
Speed of sound
International Space Station

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