Go Behind the Satellite: The International Space Station

These 5 technologies have supported more than 110,000 sunrises and sunsets

The International Space Station (ISS) will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. And we’ve been along for the ride. 

With five international partners, the ISS is both an incredible technological achievement and a study in political cooperation. Combining talents from the space agencies of the United States, Canada, Russia, Europe and Japan for two decades has resulted in the largest orbiting laboratory ever built.

Since the first parts of the ISS were sent and assembled in 1998, we have supplied more than 1,900 components comprising some 41 different types of products. Indeed, it has been said that building the ISS is like living in a house while constructing it at the same time. 

Here’s how our technologies help.

Navigation
What: Guidance, Navigation & Control (GN&C) systems such as the Space Integrated GPS/INS (SIGI), rate gyro assembly and hand controllers.
What it does: Using ring laser gyro technology, it offers triple simultaneous navigation solutions of pure inertial, GPS-only, and blended GPS/inertial.
Made in: Clearwater, Florida

Livable conditions
What: Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and thermal structures and mechanisms
What it does: These systems provide critical life support such as fire detection and carbon dioxide removal—very handy for keeping the six crew members both productive and thriving.
Made in: Torrance, California

Science Experiments
What: Bio-Analyzer (we’re the prime contractor)
What it does: In space, astronauts often must draw multiple tubes of their own blood as part of science experiments and these tubes are brought to Earth in cold storage for analysis only months later. This new scientific instrument that instantly analyzes blood cells and proteins from a single drop of blood, eliminating the need to store frozen samples and providing astronauts and doctors on Earth with immediate results.
Made in: Cambridge and Ottawa, Ontario

Docking
What: NASA Docking System (NDS) actuators
What it does: They’ll support docking of future commercial crew spacecraft being developed by Boeing and SpaceX who are preparing their vehicles for space in the coming year.
Made in: Tempe, Arizona

On-Board Controls
What: Command & Data Handling (C&DH) systems such as the Multiplexer/Demultiplexers (MDMs)
What it does: They support control and management of onboard functions as well as a variety of subsystem mechanisms for everything from power transmission to antenna steering.
Made in: Glendale, Arizona

Read more