The International Space Station (ISS) is a unique scientific platform that enables researchers from all over the world to put their talents to work on innovative experiments that could not be done anywhere else. Although each space station partner has distinct agency goals for station research, each partner shares a unified goal to extend the resulting knowledge for the betterment of humanity. Through advancing the state of scientific knowledge of our planet, looking after our health, developing advanced technologies and providing a space platform that inspires and educates the science and technology leaders of tomorrow, the benefits of the ISS will drive the legacy of the space station as its research strengthens economies and enhances the quality of life here on Earth for all people. — NASA

On November 20, 1998, the first module of the ISS launched into orbit was the Russian-built Zarya module. Two weeks later Zarya would be mated to the first U.S. piece of the complex, Unity. Over the next two decades, the ISS was built much like a Lego set. Piece by piece, additions built in various countries around the world, were launched into and assembled in space– A testament to the teamwork and cultural coordination that has lead to the largest and most complex spacecraft ever assembled.

Each piece of the ISS was launched and assembled in space, using complex robotics systems and humans in spacesuits connecting fluid lines and electrical wires. The ISS components were built in various countries around the world, with each piece performing once connected in space, a testament to the teamwork and cultural coordination.