Statistics of construction, supply and visits to the ISS

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Statistics of construction, supply and visits to the ISS

After the Starliner news, I became interested in statistics on the construction, supply and visits to the ISS. And to my surprise I discovered that there are no statistics by year (at least, detailed and publicly available). Therefore, I decided to collect it, and the results seemed interesting to me.

Wikipedia was mainly used to collect data – there they are better structured than on the NASA or Roskosmos website.

For starters – the ISS scheme. The yellow elements are those that are currently (the picture shows 2017, but the situation today has not changed much) are in orbit. What is missing is the IDA-3 dock adapter. Lilacs indicate Russian modules that are planned to dock to the ISS in the future.

The ISS began to be assembled in 1998 – the Zarya module was first sent into orbit by the Russian Proton rocket, and two weeks later, the Endeavor shuttle delivered the American Unity module and two docking adapters to assemble the station.

In the picture, I oval several modules. In the red oval, which hit the Russian modules Zvezda, Zarya, Pirs and Search, there are those elements that were put into orbit by Russian missiles (2 Protons and 2 Soyuz-U). Two small blue ovals – the BEAM module and the IDA-2 docking adapter – are the elements delivered to the ISS by SpaceX Dragon ships. All other modules were brought into orbit by the American Shuttles.

ISS Construction

To date, the mass of the ISS is about 410-420 tons. It varies slightly depending on the number and type of docked ships, so there is no exact value, and it is not necessary.

Growth in the mass of station construction elements. That is – how much at the moment the total weight of the ISS design elements delivered by a particular country weighed.

In total, Russian rockets delivered four modules with a total weight of 45.6 tons to the ISS, and Shuttles – 312 tons. Dragon ships – only two tons (I remind you, we are not talking about the total mass of the cargo, namely the elements of the station itself). In total, less than the mass of the station turned out – this difference was formed due to fuel, various liquids and gases, equipment, products, personal items and the like.

For comparison, the Mir station at the time of flooding had a mass of about 130 tons. I don’t know about you, but after such a comparison, the thesis that the Shuttles are useless seems somewhat controversial.

ISS Visit

The station is primarily a space laboratory where people need to be transported. But before working, a laboratory needs to be built. Shuttles are also large space change houses where workers can live while the station is still not working. Actually, the first time the work on assembling the station went approximately like that – the next Shuttle arrived at the station, which was uninhabited, in which there was another station node, spacesuits, tools for work and astronauts (and sometimes astronauts). For several days, work was underway to assemble the station, after which the Shuttle returned to Earth. Subsequently, when the station became inhabited, the Shuttles allowed the crew to change: one shift arrived, another flew away.

I did not divide the statistics into scientists, pilots and workers and did not consider the total time spent at the station. I only note that the Shuttle could be docked to the station for about two weeks, and the Russian Union – up to six months. In addition, at any time, the number of people at the station did not exceed the number of available seats in docked ships – which allowed the entire crew to be evacuated at any time. Even during short hops – for example, when the MS-14 ship could not land at one of the docking nodes and it was decided to try another busy MS-13 – the entire crew of the ship was in the ship, so that if the docking is not possible it is safe to return to Earth.

So, statistics on people delivered to the ISS. If a person flew on the Shuttle, but flew on the Union (or vice versa) – I wrote it down on the arrival ship. I took the year by launch date, failed flights (or rather, only one flight) – did not take into account. A person who has been in space several times is counted several times. In the case of the Shuttles, the entire crew was considered, even if not all of its members visited the ISS.

Number of people delivered to the ISS in a given year

The number of people delivered to the ISS for a particular year

Failure after 2003 is a catastrophe of Colombia, after which the Shuttle flights stopped for almost three years.

In total, during the existence of the ISS, the Shuttles delivered 242 people to it, Russia – 175 people.

Work in outer space

Next – spacewalks (VKD – foreign ship activity) to perform various tasks – to assemble the station, to maintain it and to conduct various experiments. They were always performed in pairs, always in suits of the same type (i.e., either two American EMUs or two Russian Orlans). Repeatedly, people from different countries, for example, an American and a Russian, took part in one VCD. Therefore, I consider the nationality of the astronaut / astronaut, and not the space suit used. It is precisely the facts of the VCD that are considered, and not the number of people who committed them: the astronaut who made four exits is counted four times. Naturally, only the VCA is taken into account in the framework of the ISS project, the Hubble repair is not taken into account here.

EVAs by year

EVA for a specific year

In total, 224 pair spacewalks were completed within the ISS. U.S. astronauts participated 324 times in the VCT (they call it EVA – Extravehicular activity), 91 times – Russian astronauts, 33 spacewalks were performed by representatives of other countries – citizens of France (7 times), Canada (5), Japan (7) , Germany (3), Sweden (5), Italy (5) and Britain (1).

ISS Supply

At first, shuttles and Russian Progress ships were used to supply the ISS. From 2008 to 2014, European ATVs also flew, and from 2009 to the present, Japanese HTVs (also called Kounotori, the white stork). After the Shuttle flights ceased, the American segment is equipped with Dragon (since 2012) and Cygnus (since 2013) ships.

It was difficult to count the Shuttles. In one flight, he could carry some kind of structure that would be used to assemble the ISS, a container with supplies for the station’s crew and a spacesuit that would be used for the VVD and subsequently returned to Earth. In this case, I counted only supplies, without the mass of the container and without everything else.

In the case of the rest of the ships, I did not break up the data by type of cargo. A kilogram of canned food, a kilogram of fuel for orbit correction, and a kilogram of laboratory equipment are considered equivalent.

So, the statistics. At first I counted the countries – that is, all American ships fell into one group. The first schedule – by years, the second – in total. Only those that successfully flew to the ISS were considered – three emergency Progresses and one each Dragon and Cygnus were not included in the statistics. In Progress, I also recorded the unmanned Soyuz MS-14, which transported Fedor’s robot to the ISS, and also delivered 670 kg of various cargo.

The mass of cargo delivered to the ISS by year

On the schedule of total delivery, the step of the schedule is not fixed by years – I built it so that every delivery is taken into account and somehow adds to the schedule.

The total mass of the cargo delivered to the ISS

And separately – a comparison of the mass of cargo delivered by various American ships.

The mass of cargo delivered to the ISS by American ships over the years

Again – it is clear that the Shuttles made, so to say, a tangible contribution to the common cause of the delivery of goods. In total, Shuttles delivered 133 tons of various cargo to the ISS over 12 years. The rest of the American ships – Dragon and Cygnus – delivered 40 and 34 tons, respectively. Progress – 179 tons. European ships delivered only 31.5 tons, Japanese – 42.7 tons. In addition, Dragon ships launched 22 tons of various cargo from the ISS onto Earth – this is necessary for a more detailed study of the results of various experiments.

The failure of the United States after 2003 is Colombia, the same, 2012-2013 is the transition from the Shuttles to other ships. Russia has seen a fall since 2016 – the number of Progresses has decreased from 4 to 3 per year: since part of the cargo is water and fuel, which are relatively compact, the mass of the delivered payload does not change much (usually 2400-2700 kg), and the number of launches is easy read from the chart. Easy climb in 2019 is the Union of MS-14 with Fedor. The Japanese also noticeable failure over the years – but this is because they launch their ship on average less than once a year.


The ISS is a common project, and one country with the current financing of space would not have pulled it. Without the USA and their Shuttles, it would not have been possible to build the ISS in the form in which it exists now – with huge farms of solar panels and radiators. Without Russian Unions and Progress, it would have to be left in 2003. The rest of the countries made a small contribution to the common cause relative to the United States and Russia.


Alas, I will not find all of them now – I had to search for information on the Shuttles on various sites, including fan sites. Therefore, the list of wiki pages I used:

ISS assembly sequence, some mass data had to be taken from articles about modules;

A list of spacewalks, nationalities were considered manually.

The list of Shuttle flights and onward for each mission;

List of devices Union;

The list of devices Progress, masses – in the articles for each device;

List of Dragon devices;

List of Cygnus devices;


If someone wants to play with the collected data, you can download it from Google Drive. There is some chaos, but you can figure it out.

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