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STS-106: Making the station a home in space

Following the Russian Zvezda service module's long-awaited launch to serve as the station's living quarters, Atlantis pays a visit in September 2000 to prepare the complex for arrival of the first resident crew.

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STS-101: ISS service call

An impromptu maintenance mission to the new space station was flown by Atlantis in May 2000. The astronauts narrate their mission highlights.

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STS-96: First ISS docking

The first shuttle mission to dock with the fledgling International Space Station came in May 1999 when Discovery linked up with the two-module orbiting outpost. The STS-96 crew tells story of the mission.

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STS-88: Building the ISS

Construction of the International Space Station commenced with Russia's Zarya module launching aboard a Proton rocket and shuttle Endeavour bringing up the American Unity connecting hub. STS-88 crew narrates highlights from the historic first steps in building the outpost.

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Delta 4-Heavy launch

The first operational Delta 4-Heavy rocket launches the final Defense Support Program missile warning satellite for the Air Force.

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Covert satellite for Israel launched by Indian rocket

Posted: January 21, 2008

The PSLV rocket fires up. Credit: ISRO
An Israeli spy satellite designed to scout enemy military activity in the face of darkness and poor weather was successfully launched aboard an Indian rocket Monday during a mission shrouded in a veil of secrecy.

The covert payload, wrapped inside the nose of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, lifted off at 0345 GMT Monday (10:45 p.m. EST Sunday) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island off India's east coast, Indian news reports said.

The 146-foot-tall rocket's four stages propelled the booster into orbit, and the TECSAR satellite was cast free of the PSLV's upper stage as planned about 20 minutes after liftoff. Officials declared the mission a complete success, achieving an elliptical orbit with a high point of 360 miles, a low point of 280 miles and inclination of 41 degrees to the equator.

Israeli and Indian government agencies made no official announcement of an imminent launch prior to Monday's mission.

A report last month indicated the flight was postponed several months due to concerns voiced by U.S. political leaders, but Indian officials immediately quashed those claims, blaming the delays on technical glitches.

TECSAR is fitted with a large dish-like antenna to transmit and receive radar signals that can penetrate darkness and thick clouds. Built by Israel Aerospace Industries, the roughly 700-pound satellite is the first such spacecraft for the Israeli government.

Space-based radar payloads allow intelligence analysts access to fresh imagery 24 hours a day, no matter the weather conditions.

Also called Polaris, the satellite joins a fleet of Israeli optical reconnaissance satellites that can resolve ground objects as small as two feet. TechSAR's X-band radar system is believed to have a maximum resolution below four inches, according a report in the Jerusalem Post.

Previous Israeli news reports said the new satellite will help keep tabs on military activity inside Iran and Syria.