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The International Space Station is the largest and most complex international scientific project in history. And when it is complete just after the turn of the century, the the station will represent a move of unprecedented scale off the home planet. Led by the United States, the International Space Station draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency and Brazil. More than four times as large as the Russian Mir space station, the completed International Space Station will have a mass of about 1,040,000 pounds. It will measure 356 feet across and 290 feet long, with almost an acre of solar panels to provide electrical power to six state-of-the-art laboratories.

The station will be in an orbit with an altitude of 250 statute miles with an inclination of 51.6 degrees. This orbit allows the station to be reached by the launch vehicles of all the international partners to provide a robust capability for the delivery of crews and supplies. The orbit also provides excellent Earth observations with coverage of 85 percent of the globe and over flight of 95 percent of the population. By the end of this year, about 500,000 pounds of station components will be have been built at factories around the world.