This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Spot the Station


October 31, 2000: First Crew Launched to ISS

Russia launches Soyuz TM-31, carrying the first crew to the International Space Station. The ISS has been continuously manned since this first mission.

Soyuz_TM-31_launchExpedition 1 was the first long-duration stay on the International Space Station (ISS). The three-person crew stayed aboard for 136 days:  November 2000 to March 2001. It was the beginning of an uninterrupted human presence on the station which still continues, as of September 2013.

The official start of the expedition occurred when the crew docked to the station on November 2, 2000, aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-31. During their mission, the Expedition 1 crew activated various systems on board the station, unpacked equipment that had been delivered, and hosted three visiting Space Shuttle crews and two unmanned Russian Progress resupply vehicles. The crew kept busy.


The three visiting Space Shuttles brought equipment, supplies, and key components of the space station. The first of these, STS-97, docked in early December 2000, and brought the first pair of large U.S. photovoltaic arrays, which increased the station’s power capabilities fivefold.

The truss solar array unfurled

The truss solar array unfurled

The second visiting shuttle mission was STS-98, which was docked in mid-February 2001, delivered the $1.4 billion research module Destiny, which increased the mass of the station beyond that of Mir for the first time.



Mid-March 2001 saw the final shuttle visit of the expedition, STS-102, whose main purpose was to exchange the Expedition 1 crew with the next three person long-duration crew, Expedition 2. The expedition ended when Discovery undocked from the station on 18 March 2001.

Krikalev, Shephard & Gidzenko

Krikalev, Shepherd & Gidzenko

The Expedition 1 crew consisted of American commander Bill Shepherd, who had been in space three times before and Russians, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev, both had previous long-duration spaceflights on Mir, with Krikalev having spent over a full year in space.

Commander Bill Shepherd

Commander Bill Shepherd

S. K. Krikalev in the Zvezda module. Atlantis is shown outside the window, flying mission STS-98.

S. K. Krikalev in the Zvezda module. Atlantis is shown outside the window, flying mission STS-98.

Cosmonaut Yuri P. Gidzenko,, communicates with ground controllers onboard the Zvezda Service Module

Cosmonaut Yuri P. Gidzenko communicates with ground controllers onboard the Zvezda Service Module

The crew’s four and a half-month tour aboard the ISS officially ended on March 18, 2001, when Discovery undocked. The Expedition 1 crew returned home to Earth on STS-102, landing on March 21, 2001, on a rare night landing (2:30 am local time). Two days after the landing, coincidentally, Mir was intentionally burned up during atmospheric reentry, ending its 15 years in orbit.


Beginning of IMAX’s “Space Station 3D” narrated by Tom Cruse

NASA operates the “Spot The Station” service to provide sighting opportunities in a text listing by city. You also can sign up to receive notices of opportunities in your email inbox or cell phone.  Please visit:


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