First resident crew arrives at the International Space Station
Expedition 1 was the first long-duration stay on the International Space Station (ISS). The three-person crew stayed aboard the station for 136 days, from November 2000 to March 2001. It was the beginning of an uninterrupted human presence on the station which continues as of November 2017. Expedition 2, which also had three crew members, immediately followed Expedition 1.
The official start of the expedition occurred when the crew docked to the station on 2 November 2000, aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TM-31, which had launched two days earlier. 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 was very busy throughout the mission, which was declared a success.
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 second visiting shuttle mission was STS-98, which was docked in mid-February 2001, delivered the US$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.
The Expedition 1 crew consisted of an American commander and two Russians. The commander, Bill Shepherd, had been in space three times before, all on shuttle missions which lasted at most a week. The 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.
The commander, Bill Shepherd, was a former Navy SEAL, whose only spaceflights were on shuttle missions, and at the beginning of the mission his total time in space was about two weeks. Questions had been raised by the Russian space agency about the choice of Shepherd as mission commander due to his lack of experience. Flight engineer Sergei Krikalev had spent over a year in orbit, mostly on Mir, and would become the first person to visit the ISS twice. He had felt excitement to have been one of the first people to enter the Zarya module (the first component of the space station) in 1998, during STS-88, and was looking forward to returning. Yuri Gidzenko was designated commander and pilot of the two-day Soyuz mission to the station, had one previous spaceflight, which was a 180-day stay aboard Mir.
Shepherd was only the second U.S. astronaut to be launched in a Russian spacecraft, the first being Norman Thagard, who launched on Soyuz TM-21 to visit Mir in 1995. Shepherd expected one of the biggest challenges for the ISS would be the compatibility of technologies, such as that between Russian and U.S. technologies.
The first component of the space station was the Zarya module, which was launched unmanned in November 1998. Following this launch, and prior to Expedition 1, there were five manned Space Shuttle flights and two unmanned Russian flights to the ISS. Some of these flights delivered large modules, such as the pressurized Unity and Zvezda modules, and the first piece of the Integrated Truss Structure. The manned flights were used for partial assembly of the ISS, as well as to start unpacking the supplies and equipment that were being delivered. Prior to Expedition 1, Krikalev expected the ISS to be very similar to his experience on Mir ten years previous, due to the physical similarities of the stations' components.
The launch of the Expedition 1 crew occurred a week before the United States presidential election, so it got little attention in the United States. At the time of the mission, the station was expected to be completed in 2006, and be continuously inhabited until at least 2015. Due to several delays, including the fallout from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the station was completed in late 2011, thanks to STS-134.
The crew of three were on board the International Space Station for four and a half months, from early November 2000 to mid-March 2001. Major events during this time include the three-week-long Space Shuttle visits, which occurred in early December, mid-February, and at the end of the expedition in March.