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International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station in low Earth orbit, run as a joint project by the American, Russian, Japanese, European, and Canadian space agencies. Its first component was sent into orbit in 1998, and it has been inhabited continuously since 2000. The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays, and other components, which have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and American Space Shuttles. It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields.

This photograph, taken in 2011 by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli from a departing Russian Soyuz spacecraft, shows the ISS and the docked Space Shuttle Endeavour.Photograph: Paolo Nespoli.

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