International spacestation (ISS)

The International Space Station orbits the Earth, and consists of various parts built, staffed and funded by different countries.

On November 20, 1998, the first module was launched. Since November 2, 2000, the station has been permanently inhabited. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, the station has been continuously expanded. On May 27, 2011, construction of the ISS was completed.

Learn more about the International Space Station.

Other images of the Earth can be viewed on the satellite page.

© 2020 ESA

Live ISS in image and sound

Above are high-resolution images of the International Space Station (ISS) and images of Earth. In addition, the conversation between the astronauts and Mission Control on Earth can also be heard.

The space station orbits the earth and experiences a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. If the station is in the Earth’s shadow, the image may be dark. The broadcast may also be interrupted because the images are used for another process.

On the adjacent map, the space station flies in the light (light blue) or in the dark (dark blue). The blue bar at the bottom shows the current position of the station (Latitude and Longitude). In addition, the altitude at which the station flies (approximately 420km) and the speed (approximately 27500km/h).

Tour of the ISS

A look inside the International Space Station. André Kuipers will take you on a tour of the various modules it consists of.

Due to the absence of gravity, the astronauts also use the floor and ceiling. In this way they use all available spaces for the many investigations that are carried out and life on board.

ISS satellite orbit

The International Space Station orbits the Earth at an angle called inclination, which has a magnitude of 51.6 degrees. If you live at a latitude greater than 51.6 degrees, the station will never come straight across. In the Netherlands, for example, Maastricht is at a latitude of 51 degrees and Leeuwarden at 53 degrees.

Below you can see the orbit of the space station around the earth on the left. The rotation of the earth ensures that the station always flies over a different part. But never higher than 51.6 degrees.

In the image below on the right, three different orbits are drawn. The orbit of the ISS (green), orbit parallel to the equator (red, inclination 0 degrees) and a vertical orbit (blue, inclination 90 degrees), the latter also called polar orbit because it crosses the poles.


ISS view in the sky

The space station is visible through the reflection of sunlight just like the moon. But the station isn’t bright enough to view it during the day. This is only possible at dawn or dusk, and also only in clear weather. The possibilities vary from once a month to several times a week.

When these possibilities are available, you can see in the widget on the right, which you can generate here and then place in your website.

You can also generate an overview on the website ‘Spot the station‘ with information when the space station is visible in the sky. To do this, select your place on the relevant page or click on a place near you that is marked with a blue marker. You will then receive a 14-day overview.

The meaning of the data in the widget and in the generated list can be found below:

Explanation information

Tijd: ‘Tue Dec 3 5:39PM’

The beginning of the period when the ISS is visible in the time zone where you are. Visibility occurs a few hours before sunrise or a few hours after sunset. This is the best time to view because the space station reflects the sunlight and contrasts well against the dark sky.


The maximum time the space station is visible during this orbit.

Max Height

The maximum height in degrees (also known as elevation). It indicates the height of the space station above the horizon in the night sky. The horizon is at 0 degrees and 90 degrees directly above you. When you put your fist on the horizon at arm’s length, the top is at 10 degrees.


The location in the sky where the space station first becomes visible and from what direction.


The location in the sky where the space station disappears from view.