List of space stations

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An image of the International Space Station. The silver-colored center module is dark blue, surrounded by four golden solar arrays on each side. The sun is reflecting off of the set to the left. In the background is the outline of the Earth.
The International Space Station in front of the Earth. This image was taken by space shuttle Discovery while pulling away during STS-119.
An image of Skylab. The left side of the frame is dominated by a communications array, painted white with a cylindrical satellite dish on top. On they right is a brown-grey cylinder, which is the main station. No solar arrays are visible.
Skylab viewed from the command module of Skylab 2

A space station is a crewed satellite designed to remain in low Earth orbit for a long period of time. In general, space stations have the ability for other spacecraft to dock to them. As of 2018, the International Space Station is the only operational crewed space station currently in orbit. Other experimental and prototype labs are also in orbit. Previous stations include the Salyut and Almaz series, Skylab, Mir and Tiangong 1.[1]

Space stations are used to study the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. They also serve as a platform for extended scientific studies.[2] All space stations have been designed with the intention of rotating multiple crews, with each crew member staying aboard the station for weeks or months, but rarely more than a year. As of today, Vladimir Titov, Musa Manarov, Sergei Avdeyev and Valeriy Polyakov have completed single missions of over a year, all aboard Mir.[3]

Space stations have been used for both military and civilian purposes. The first military-use space station was Salyut 2, which was launched by the Soviet Almaz program in 1973.[4] The Soviet Union also claimed the first civilian space station with the launch of Salyut 1. As of 2019, Russia, China, India , and private companies are building space stations.

Past stations[edit]

These stations have re-entered the atmosphere and disintegrated.

The Soviet Union ran two programs simultaneously, both of which were known to the outside world as Salyut. The Long Duration Orbital Station (DOS) program was intended for scientific research into spaceflight. The Almaz program was a secret military program that tested space reconnaissance tactics.[5]

double-dagger Never crewed
Name Entity Program Crew size Launched Reentered Days
in orbit
Days
occupied
Total crew
and visitors
Number of
crewed visits
Number of
robotic visits
Mass Pressurized volume
Salyut 1 Soviet Union USSR DOS[6] 3[7] 19 April 1971[8] 11 October 1971[9] 175 24[10] 6[11] 2[11] 0[11] 18,425 kg (40,620 lb)[8] 100 m3 (3,500 cu ft)[12]
DOS-2double-dagger Soviet Union USSR DOS[13] [a] 29 July 1972[8][14] 29 July 1972 (failed to reach orbit) 18,000 kg (40,000 lb)[15]
Salyut 2double-dagger Soviet Union USSR Almaz[14] [a] 3 April 1973[14] 16 April 1973[14] 13[14] 18,500 kg (40,800 lb)[16]
Kosmos 557double-dagger Soviet Union USSR DOS[17] [a] 11 May 1973[18] 22 May 1973[19] 11 19,400 kg (42,800 lb)[15]
Skylab United States NASA Skylab[20] 3[21] 14 May 1973[22] 11 July 1979[23] 2249 171[24] 9[25] 3[26] 0[27] 77,088 kg (169,950 lb)[28] 360 m3 (12,700 cu ft)[29]
Salyut 3 Soviet Union USSR Almaz[6] 2[30] 25 May 1974[31] 24 January 1975[32] 213 15[33] 2[33] 1[33] 0 18,900 kg (41,700 lb)
(at launch)[34]
90 m3 (3,200 cu ft)[17]
Salyut 4 Soviet Union USSR DOS[35] 2[36] 26 December 1974[37] 3 February 1977[37] 770[37] 92[38] 4[38] 2[38][39] 1[38] 18,900 kg (41,700 lb)[17]
(at launch)
90 m3 (3,200 cu ft)[17]
Salyut 5 Soviet Union USSR Almaz[35] 2[40] 22 June 1976[41] 8 August 1977[42] 412 67[43] 4[43] 3[43] 0[43] 19,000 kg (42,000 lb)[17]
(at launch)
100 m3 (3,500 cu ft)[17]
Salyut 6 Soviet Union USSR DOS[35] 2[44] 29 September 1977[44] 29 July 1982[45] 1764 683[46] 33[46] 16[46] 14[46] 19,000 kg (42,000 lb)[47] 90 m3 (3,200 cu ft)[48]
Salyut 7 Soviet Union USSR DOS[35] 3[49] 19 April 1982[50] 7 February 1991[50] 3216[50] 861[49] 22[49] 10[49] 15[49] 19,000 kg (42,000 lb)[51] 90 m3 (3,200 cu ft)[17]
Mir
DOS[52] 3[53] 19 February 1986[54][b] 23 March 2001[23][54] 5511[54] 4594[55] 125[55] 39[56] 68[55] 129,700 kg (285,900 lb)[57] 350 m3 (12,400 cu ft)[58]
Tiangong-1 China CNSA Tiangong program 3[59] 29 September 2011[60][61] 2 April 2018[62] 2377 25[63] 6[63][64] 2[63] 1[65] 8,506 kg (18,753 lb)[66] 15 m3 (530 cu ft)[67]

Note: Prototypes and various parts of Chinese, Japanese, and Russian, U.S. programs are in orbit, but not necessarily operational.

Prototypes[edit]

These stations and parts are prototypes; they only exist as testing platforms and will never be crewed. OPS 0855 was part of a cancelled Manned Orbiting Laboratory project by the United States, while the Genesis stations were launched privately and remain in orbit. Japan also has a tested version of a space elevator in orbit.

Name Entity Program Launched Reentered Days in orbit Mass Pressurized volume
OPS 0855 United States US Air Force MOL 3 November 1966[68] 9 January 1967[68] 67 9,680 kg (21,340 lb) 11.3 m3 (400 cu ft)
Genesis I Bigelow Aerospace 12 July 2006[69] (In Orbit) 4724 1,360 kg (3,000 lb)[70] 11.5 m3 (410 cu ft)[71]
Genesis II Bigelow Aerospace 28 June 2007[69] (In Orbit) 4373 1,360 kg (3,000 lb)[70] 11.5 m3 (406 cu ft)[71]

Operational stations[edit]

These stations are currently orbiting Earth and where a life support system is in place. Only one is fully operational.

Name Entity Crew size Launched Days in
orbit[c]
Days
occupied
Total crew
and visitors
Crewed
visits
Robotic
visits
Mass Pressurized
volume
International Space Station 6[72] 20 November 1998[72][b] 7515 6804[73] 215[73] 88 [74] 94 [74] 417,289 kg (919,965 lb)[75] 907 m3 (32,000 cu ft)[76]

Planned stations[edit]

These space stations have been announced by their host entity and are currently in active development or production. The launch date listed here may change as more information becomes available.

Name Entity Planned
crew size
Planned
launch date
Chinese large modular space station China CNSA 3 2019–2022[77]
Space Complex Alpha United States Bigelow Aerospace 3+[78] 2020[79]
Space Complex Bravo United States Bigelow Aerospace 24[80] 2020 or later[79]
Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway United States NASA

Russia Roscosmos
 Europe ESA
Canada CSA

4 2022[81]
Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex
(OPSEK)
Russia Roscosmos 2+ Pre-ISS deorbit (2024 at earliest)[82]
Indian space station India ISRO 3 ~2030[83][84][85][86]
Lunar Orbital Station[87]
(LOS)
Russia Roscosmos TBD [d] after 2030[88]

Cancelled projects[edit]

A mockup of the inside of Skylab at the Smithsonian, based on the Skylab B module. In the center, a dummy dressed in a gold jumpsuit sits at a table. Behind him are white cabinets that hold the crews equipment. Off to the right, a porthole shows a view of the Smithsonian.
An image of the interior of Skylab B, on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Most of these stations were cancelled due to financial difficulties. However, Mir-2 and Freedom were later converted into the joint International Space Station project.

Space station Entity Crew size Launch date Remarks
Manned Orbiting Laboratory 1–7 United States NASA 2[89] Mockup launched 3 November 1966[90]
(In orbit 40 days, cancelled after launch)[91]
Canceled due to excessive costs[92]
Skylab B United States NASA 3[93] Between 1975 and 1979 (planned)[94] Constructed, but launch canceled due to lack of funding.[95] Now a museum piece.
Freedom United States NASA 14–16[96] March 1994[97] Converted into the International Space Station[97]
Mir-2 Russia RFSA 2 [98] 1993[99] Canceled due to financial difficulties[99] Converted into the ISS
Galaxy Bigelow Aerospace Robotic[100] late 2008 (planned)[100] Canceled due to rising costs and ability to ground test key Galaxy subsystems[101]
Almaz commercial Excalibur Almaz 4 or more 2015 Lack of funds. To be converted into an educational exhibit[102]

Timeline[edit]

Tiangong 2Tiangong 1Genesis IIGenesis IInternational Space StationMirSalyut 7Salyut 6Salyut 5Salyut 4Salyut 3SkylabKosmos 557Salyut 2DOS-2Salyut 1OPS 0855


See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The USSR intended to man this station, however; it re-entered the atmosphere before the cosmonauts were launched.
  2. ^ a b Launch date of the initial module. Additional modules for this station were launched later.
  3. ^ Correct as of 18 June 2019
  4. ^ This station was announced in 2007, details are still forthcoming.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Space stations at Wikimedia Commons