20 November 1998 - Zarya Launches, The First International Space Station Module

Image credit: NASA

On 20 November 1998, the first module of the ISS (or international space station) was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan on a Proton rocket.

The purpose of the Zarya module, also call Functional Cargo Block (or FGB) was to provide power, storage, propulsion and guidance during the assembly of the ISS.

Today more specialised modules have taken over all of the functions of the Zayra and it's now mainly used for storage. 

Zarya stats

  • Mass: 19.3 tons / 42,600 lb
  • Length: 12.5 meters / 41 ft
  • Diameter: 4.1 meters / 13.5 ft 

Image credit: NASA

A New Dawn 

The name Zarya or Заря́ in Russian, means sunrise and it's launch meant the start of a new international era of space exploration.

The module was origianlly designed to be part of the MIR space station, but with the end of the Mir, the design was altered. 

Although the module was built by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Russian company, it is owned by the United States. The main reason it was manufactured in Russia was cost. NASA paid US$220 million for the module. 

The other contractor that had proposed a bid for this module was Lockheed's Bus-1., which cost US$450 million.

Start of The Assembly

Two weeks after the launch of the Zarya, another NASA module Unity was launched with the Space Shuttle STS-88 mission.

Image credit: NASA

It was later attached by astronauts. This extra module allowed the Space Shuttle to dock to the International Space Station.

 Here is what the interior of the Zarya module looks like:

Image credit: NASA

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