The space world kicked off the new millennium by sending its first crew to live on what was a still incomplete International Space Station.
Made of multiple pieces, the ISS had been under construction for years. According to NASA, the first piece was launched from Russia in 1998, and over the following two years, more pieces were added to ready the station for people.
On Nov. 2, 2000, the first crew arrived. American astronaut William Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev launched from Kazakhstan and traveled to the ISS to begin their historic mission.
Their mission was to last four months, and it included laying the foundation for the future of the ISS and any crew to follow, according to NASA.
One of the first tasks of Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev involved activating the hot water dispenser, which would allow them to drink warm beverages in addition to using the toilet.
They then installed and activated critical systems on the station, such as the oxygen generation system and the carbon dioxide removal system, NASA said.
On Nov. 18, the first crew received their first resupply craft, bringing with it more than 5,000 pounds of cargo, water and propellants.
About one month after their arrival, NASA noted that Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev welcomed their first guests. The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor visited the station to install its first truss segment, including the first solar arrays to provide power to the station.
In Feb. 2001, the ISS crew greeted the Atlantis crew, who delivered the primary American research facility known as the Destiny U.S. Laboratory Module.
In March 2001, the space shuttle Discovery brought, not only supplies and the first research rack to be installed in Destiny, but also brought replacements for the first ISS crew.
According to NASA, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev and American astronauts James Voss and Susan Helms boarded the ISS to pick up where Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev left off.
The first crew took Discovery back down to Earth, where they touched down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on March 21, 2001.
Since the historic mission conducted by Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev, more modules have been added to the station. NASA said the station is nearly the length of a football field, including the end zones.
The ISS is larger than a six-bedroom house with sleeping quarters, and it has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window.
As of Oct. 2023, more than 260 astronauts from 21 countries have visited the ISS in its more than two decades in orbit, according to NASA. The station has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2000.