United States, Russia Agree To Construct International Space Station 23 Years Ago This Month

By  //  September 3, 2016

The International Space Station completed its 100,000th orbit early this morning after its first component, the Zarya cargo module, launched Nov. 20, 1998. (NASA image)
The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component launched into orbit in 1998, and the ISS is now the largest artificial body in orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. The ISS consists of pressurized modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components. ISS components have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and American Space Shuttles. (NASA image)

NASA – At the behest of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin came together to chair the first U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Energy and Space in September of 1993.

Also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, the agenda of this meeting included discussion of the possibility of an “enhanced” Shuttle-Mir program. Ultimately, the Commission agreed to three phases of space station cooperation.

The first would be the Shuttle-Mir program during which NASA and the newly created Russian Space Agency learned to work together in low Earth orbit. During the second phase the two nations would collaborate on the construction of a new International Space Station (ISS).

And finally, the third phase would see both nations living and working together on the ISS. Despite many challenges – technical, financial, operational and others – the framework laid down by the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission made the ISS, a masterpiece of human engineering, possible.