The International Space Station’s assembly in low-Earth orbit began in 1998: the Russian modules arrived via autonomous rockets, whereas the American parts were delivered by a Space Shuttle. It wasn’t until November 2000, however, when the first batch of humanity’s representatives blasted off on a Soyuz spacecraft to live aboard the artificial satellite. Since then, it has served as both home and orbiting research facility to astronauts and cosmonauts from the space agencies that helped build it: NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), ESA (Europe), JAXA (Japan) and CSA (Canada). Each expedition typically lasts six months, and everyone onboard is expected to perform scientific experiments, such as growing vegetables, printing 3D objects and observing how animals fare in space. They also do maintenance work on the vehicle, which can be more exciting than it sounds, considering some instances require them to do spacewalks.
Via: The Washington Post