Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

International Space Station (ISS) Reference Guide

International Space Station (ISS) Reference Guide – http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/508318main_ISS_ref_guide_nov2010.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find the treadmill on the International Space Station?
  • What are the scematics of the water recovery system for the International Space Station?
  • What are the specifications of the Japan Experiment Module Kibo?
  • What is the Mobile Servicing System and what does it do?
  • How is the ISS protected for meteors and space debris?


This guide appears to be a fairly complete guide to a writer who is envisioning creating a small orbital outpost. The guide is a 50MB PDF file containing 140 pages of materials.

Oriented to the general public, it is divided into the following chapters:

  • What it does – Describes the goals of the Station.
  • Research guide – Explains the main research areas of the station and what equipment is used for it.
  • How it’s put together – Specifications of the various modules that make up the International Space Station.
  • How it’s supported – Overview of the nations supporting the ISS, followed by specifications of supply vessels for the station.
  • How the crew lives – Includes photos of sleep, exercise and work. Covers basic health care issues. The photos are keyed to the corresponding sections of the station.
  • How it works – An explanation of the systems that run the station along with specifications for space suits and manipulator arms.
  • How it’s built – Shows an expanded/exploded view of ISS elements along with an illustrated chronology of construction.
  • Missions – Personnel and dates of mission for the first 24 expedition crews, along with information about shuttle, Soyuz and unmanned missions to the ISS.
  • Appendix – Resource guide for further reading, an acronym list related to space station operations and a short glossary.

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