"Congress continues to debate NASA's International Space Station (ISS) program to build a permanently occupied space station in Earth orbit where astronauts live and conduct research. NASA expects that research performed in the near-zero gravity environment of the space station will result in new discoveries in life sciences, biomedicine, and materials sciences. The space station is being assembled in Earth orbit. Almost 90 launches are needed to take the various segments, crews, and cargo into orbit; more than two dozen have taken place already. ISS has been permanently occupied by successive 'Expedition' crews rotating on 4-6 month shifts since November 2000. 'Expedition 6' is now onboard. The ISS crews are routinely visited by other astronauts and cosmonauts on U.S. space shuttle or Russian Soyuz missions. The original date to complete ISS assembly, June 2002, slipped to April 2006, with at least 10 years of operations expected to follow. Cost overruns in 2001 forced additional changes, and the current date for completing assembly is uncertain. Congress appropriated about $30 billion for the program from FY1985-2002. The FY2003 request is $1.84 billion."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB93017
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