Did you know that humans have been living in the International Space Station, uninterrupted, for twenty years? Ever since the first crew members docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2000, more than 240 people have visited this outpost, representing 19 countries working together. They have been busy building, upgrading, and maintaining the space station – while simultaneously engaging in cutting-edge scientific research.

The first modules that would later make up the ISS were launched into orbit in 1998: the Russian Zarya launched via a Proton-K rocket, and the US-built Unity module launched about a week and a half later by the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Subsequent missions added vital elements and modules to the Space Station before it was ready to be inhabited. And at last, on November 2, 2000, Expedition-1 brought the first three permanent crew members to the station in a Russian Soyuz capsule: NASA astronaut William M. Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenk.

Since then, an entire generation has been born into a world where humans continually live and work in space!

A complete view of the ISS as of October 4, 2018, taken from the Soyuz capsule of the departing crew of Expedition 56 from their Soyuz capsule. This structure was built by materials launched into orbit by 37 United States Space Shuttle missions and 5 Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and assembled and maintained by 230 spacewalks, with more to come! Credit: NASA/Roscosmos

Hundreds of astronauts from all over the world have crewed the International Space Station over the last two decades, and their work has inspired countless people to look up and ponder humanity’s presence and future in space.