ISS Missions

“Beginning this year, 1998, men and women from 16 countries will build a foothold in the heavens, the international space station. With its vast expanses, scientists and engineers will actually set sail on an uncharted sea of limitless mystery and unlimited potential.”

- President Clinton, January 27, 1998

STS-63 was the first mission of the US/Russian Shuttle-Mir Program, which carried out the first rendezvous of the American Space Shuttle with Russia’s space station Mir.

Known as the 'Near-Mir' mission, the flight used Space Shuttle Discovery, which lifted off on February 3, 1995, from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. STS-63 marked the first time a space shuttle mission had a female pilot, Eileen Collins, and was done in preparation for STS-71, the first mission to dock with Mir. In addition to the American crew, STS-63 included Russian cosmonaut Vladamir Titov.

President William Jefferson Clinton and Vice President Albert Gore on the Phone with STS-63.

President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore speaking with the STS-63 crew in space, February 6, 1995.

On February 6, 1995, President Clinton and Vice President Gore shared a phone call with the crew of Discovery while in space. This was a strategic call, as it brought further attention to the first visible step of the International Space Station program. The mission was a success and paved the way for the completion of the ISS.

Recommended phone call to the Space Shuttle astronauts in orbit aboard discovery

Scheduling request for recomended phone call from POTUS to Discovery on February 6, 1995.

On June 29th, 1995, mission STS-71 launched. An American space shuttle docked with Mir for the first time and conducted the first joint in-orbit operations. During mission STS-71, the Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the new Mir-19 crew and picked up the returning Mir-18 crew in the first Shuttle crew transfer.

Construction of the ISS began in late 1998 with the launch of the first modules aboard a Russian rocket and the American Endeavour. The first live-aboard crew, known as Expedition One, arrived on ISS in October 2000.