Unity (ISS module)

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ISS Unity module.jpg
Unity as pictured by Space Shuttle Endeavour
Module statistics
COSPAR ID1998-069F
Launch date4 December 1998
Launch vehicleSpace Shuttle Endeavour
Docked6 December 1998
Mass11,612 kilograms (25,600 lb)
Length5.47 metres (17.9 ft)
Diameter4.57 metres (15.0 ft)
References: [1][2]
The Unity module as seen in May 2011

The Unity connecting module, also known as Node 1, is the first U.S.-built component of the International Space Station. It connects the Russian and United States segments of the station, and is where crew eat meals together.

The module is cylindrical in shape, with six berthing locations (forward, aft, port, starboard, zenith, and nadir) facilitating connections to other modules. Unity measures 4.57 metres (15.0 ft) in diameter, is 5.47 metres (17.9 ft) long, made of steel, and was built for NASA by Boeing in a manufacturing facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Unity is the first of the three connecting modules; the other two are Harmony and Tranquility.

Launch and initial berthing[edit]

Unity was carried into orbit as the primary cargo of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-88, the first Space Shuttle mission dedicated to assembly of the station. On December 6, 1998, the STS-88 crew mated the aft berthing port of Unity with the forward hatch of the already orbiting Zarya module. (Zarya was a mixed Russian-US funded and Russian-built component launched a few days before aboard a Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.) This was the first connection made between two station modules.

Connecting modules and visiting vehicles[edit]

Unity has two axial and four radial Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) ports. In addition to connecting to the Zarya module, Unity connects to the U.S. Destiny Laboratory Module (added on STS-98), the Z1 truss (an early exterior framework for the station added on STS-92), the PMA-3 (also added on STS-92), and the Quest Joint Airlock (added on STS-104). During STS-120 the Harmony module was temporarily berthed to the port-side hatch of Unity. Tranquility, with its multi-windowed cupola, was attached to Unity's port side during the STS-130 mission, and PMM Leonardo was added to the nadir hatch during STS-133.

In addition, the Leonardo and Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules were each berthed to Unity on multiple missions.

Patch Spacecraft Docking Undocking
Sts-97-patch.svg STS-97 2 December 2000
19:59 UTC
9 December 2000
19:13 UTC
Sts-98-patch.svg STS-98 9 February 2001
16:51 UTC
16 February 2001
14:05 UTC
Leonardo PMM, 2011-2015
Orbital Sciences CRS Flight 4 Patch.png Cygnus CRS OA-4 9 December 2015
14:26 UTC
19 February 2016
10:38 UTC
Orbital Sciences CRS Flight 6 Patch.png Cygnus CRS OA-6 26 March 2016
10:51 UTC
14 June 2016
11:43 UTC
Orbital Sciences CRS Flight 5 Patch.png Cygnus CRS OA-5 17 October 2016
23:45 UTC
27 November 2016
23:36 UTC
Cygnus NG-10 Patch.png Cygnus CRS NG-10 19 November 2018
12:31 UTC
8 February 2019

14:37 UTC

Patch Spacecraft Docking Undocking
Sts-96-patch.svg STS-96 27 May 1999
10:49:42 UTC

6 June 1999
02:02:43 UTC

Sts-101-patch.svg STS-101 20 May 2000
04:30 UTC

26 May 2000
23:03 UTC

Sts-106-patch.png STS-106 8 September 2000
12:45:47 UTC

19 September 2000
07:56 UTC

Sts-92-patch.svg STS-92 11 October 2000
23:17:00 UTC

24 October 2000
20:59:47 UTC



Interior of Node 1 (As of 2005)

Essential space station resources such as fluids, environmental control and life support systems, electrical and data systems are routed through Unity to supply work and living areas of the station. More than 50,000 mechanical items, 216 lines to carry fluids and gases, and 121 internal and external electrical cables using six miles of wire were installed in the Unity node.[2] It is made of aluminium and stainless steel.[citation needed] During the space station construction, a crew member placed two speed limit signs on the hatch (leading into the FGB) in 2003, noting the orbital velocity in mph and km/h.[3]

Prior to its launch aboard Endeavour, conical Pressurized Mating Adapters (PMAs) were attached to the aft and forward berthing mechanisms of Unity. Unity and the two mating adapters together weighed about 25,600 pounds (11,600 kg). The adapters allow the docking systems used by the Space Shuttle and by Russian modules to attach to the node's hatches and berthing mechanisms.[2] PMA-1 now permanently attaches Unity to Zarya, while PMA-2 provided a Shuttle docking port. Attached to the exterior of PMA-1 are computers, or multiplexer-demultiplexers (MDMs), which provided early command and control of Unity. Unity also is outfitted with an early communications system that allows data, voice and low data rate video with Mission Control Houston, to supplement Russian communications systems during the early station assembly activities. PMA-3 was attached to Unity's nadir berthing mechanism by the crew of STS-92.

Other nodes[edit]

Node 3 (Tranquility) in space

The two remaining station connecting modules, or nodes, were manufactured in Italy by Alenia Aerospazio, as part of an agreement between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Harmony (also known as Node 2) and Tranquility (also known as Node 3) are slightly longer than Unity, measuring almost 6.4 meters (21 feet) long in total. In addition to their six berthing ports, each can hold eight International Standard Payload Racks (ISPRs). Unity, in comparison, holds just four ISPRs. ESA built Nodes 2 and 3 as partial payment for the launch aboard the Shuttle of the Columbus laboratory module, and other ESA equipment.


  1. ^ "NASA - NSSDC - Spacecraft - Details". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Unity Node". NASA. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  3. ^ http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=8940