The launching of the Russian Zarya module five years ago started the implementation of the most ambitious space project of the century, the construction of the International Space Station (ISS).
The Zarya module, built at the Russian Khrunichev Center, was the first element of the biggest vehicle in space today. Zarya was orbited by a Russian Proton rocket carrier from Baikonur.
The negotiations on the ISS project started in 1993. By that time Russia had a 25-year experience in operating its Salyut and Mir orbital stations, Soyuz piloted vehicles and Progress cargo spaceships. Apart from that, our astronautics, unlike American, had a unique experience in carrying out extended flights, up to 438 days.
On September 2, 1993, Russia's then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and US then Vice President Albert Gore signed a joint statement on cooperation in space which provided for creating and orbiting an international space station.
At the present time sixteen countries take part in carrying out the project. Japan, Canada and Brazil also participate in building the orbital complex, apart from Russia, the USA and the European Union countries. When finished, its total mass will equal 377 tons and its interior capacity - 1,217 cubic meters.
The rated service life of the ISS is fifteen years. Under the treaty, the Russian side has the right to use about a third of the station's resources.