I decided to create a dedicated page for the ISS assembly just to get the things more clear and modular as there is a lot of stuff to be shown for ISS in general. To be more precise this page shows the missions tasked with the delivery of the modules placed in chronological order (although not necessarily corresponding to the schedule of manned flights to ISS) and gives a brief description of each module - all the info taken from Wikipedia. By now I have a lot of gaps that will be filled in future, thus the page can look a bit empty but the idea is to prepare the structure for future additions and I hope it will work!
A total of 14 main pressurized modules were delivered by 26 NASA Space Shuttle flights and 4 Russian unmanned launches – 2 Proton and 2 Soyuz rockets, since first launch in 1998 of STS-88 and up-to 2011. Plus one research module was brought by SpaceX Dragon cargo ship in 2016. All other Space Shuttle and cargo missions were pure ISS resupply not connected explicitly to the ISS assembly.
In terms of postmarks there is no difference from any other Space Shuttle or unmanned cargo mission coverage. Probably not looking very shiny but this section is very important for the astrophilatelic coverage of the International Space Station lifecycle.
It all started with the launch of ZARYA module on Nov 20, 1998. Zarya, also known as the Functional Cargo Block or FGB, was the first module of the International Space Station to be launched. The FGB provided electrical power, storage, propulsion, and guidance to the ISS during the initial stage of assembly. The module was funded by the US while designed and built in 1990s and belongs to NASA although it remains a part of Russian segment.
This is the ISS flown cover to commemorate 15th anniversary of the event. The cover has special ISS postmark and signed by ISS 38 crew: Oleg Kotov, Koichi Wakata, Richard Mastracchio, Sergey Ryazansky, Mikhail Tyurin and Michael Hopkins
Unity was carried into orbit as the primary cargo of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-88, the first Space Shuttle mission dedicated to assembly of the station. On December 6, 1998, the STS-88 crew mated the aft berthing port of Unity with the forward hatch of the already orbiting Zarya module. This was the first connection made between two station modules.
It was the third module launched to the station, and provides all of the station's life support systems, as well as living quarters for two crew members. It is the structural and functional center of the Russian portion of the station - the Russian Orbital Segment.
The module was manufactured by RKK Energia, with major sub-contracting work by GKNPTs Khrunichev. Zvezda was launched on a Proton rocket on July 12, 2000 and docked with the Zarya module on July 26.
The Integrated Truss Structure (ITS) of the ISS consists of a linearly arranged sequence of connected trusses on which various unpressurized components are mounted, such as logistics carriers, radiators, solar arrays, and other equipment. It supplies the ISS with a bus architecture. The first truss piece, the Z1 truss, launched aboard STS-92 in October 2000. It contains the control moment gyroscope (CMG) assemblies, electrical wiring, communications equipment, and two plasma contactors designed to neutralize the static electrical charge of the space station.
The P6 truss was the second truss segment to be added, because it contains a large Solar Array Wing (SAW) that generated essential electricity for the station, prior to activation of the SAW on the P4 truss. It was originally mounted to the Z1 truss and had its SAW extended during STS-97.
The Destiny module is the primary operating facility for U.S. research payloads aboard the ISS. It was berthed to the Unity module and activated over a period of five days in February, 2001. Destiny is NASA's first permanent operating orbital research station since Skylab was vacated in February 1974. The Boeing Company began construction of the 16 ton, state-of-the art research laboratory in 1995 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Destiny was shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 1998, and was turned over to NASA for pre-launch preparations in August 2000. It was launched on February 7, 2001 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-98.
External stowage platforms (ESPs) are key components of the ISS. Each platform is a set of external pallets that can hold spare parts, also known as orbital replacement units (ORUs), for the space station. As a platform it is not pressurized, but does require electricity to power the heaters of some of the stored equipment.
The first of the external stowage platforms, ESP-1, was installed on the port side trunnion pin on the outer hull of the Destiny Laboratory Module on March 13, 2001 during the second EVA of the STS-102 Space Shuttle mission. It is powered by the Unity Module and has two attach points to store ORUs.
Officially known as the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) and manufactured by MDA Space Missions, Canada, it was launched on STS-100 in April 2001. This second generation arm is a larger, more advanced version of the Space Shuttle's original Canadarm. Canadarm2 is 17.6 m (58 ft) when fully extended and has seven motorized joints (an 'elbow' hinge in the middle, and 3 rotary joints at each of the 'wrist/shoulder' ends). It has a mass of 1,800 kg (4,000 lb) and a diameter of 35 cm (14 in). The arm is capable of handling large payloads of up to 116,000 kg (256,000 lb) and was able to assist with docking the Space Shuttle.
The Quest Joint Airlock, previously known as the Joint Airlock Module, is the primary airlock for the International Space Station. Quest was designed to host spacewalks with both Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits and Orlan space suits. The airlock was launched on STS-104 on July 14, 2001. Quest was necessary because American suits will not fit through a Russian airlock hatch and have different components, fittings, and connections.
Pirs or DC-1 (docking compartment) -- is one of the two Russian docking compartments originally planned for the ISS. Pirs was launched in August 2001. It provides the ISS with one docking port for Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, and allows egress and ingress for spacewalks by cosmonauts using Russian Orlan space suits.
The S0 truss, (also called the Center Integrated Truss Assembly Starboard 0 Truss) forms the center backbone of the Space Station. It was attached on the top of the Destiny Laboratory Module during STS-110 in April 2002. S0 is used to route power to the pressurized station modules and conduct heat away from the modules to the S1 and P1 Trusses. The S0 truss is not docked to the ISS, but is connected with four Module to Truss Structure (MTS) struts.
The Mobile Remote Servicer Base System (MBS) is a base platform for the robotic arms. It was added to the station during STS-111 in June 2002. The platform rests atop the Mobile Transporter which allows it to glide 108 meters down rails on the station's main truss. It can be used to park, power and command any payload with a grapple fixture, while keeping Canadarm2 free to do something else. The MBS also supports astronauts during extra-vehicular activities. It has locations to store tools and equipment, foot-restraints, handrails and safety tether attachment points as well as a camera assembly. If needed, it is even possible for an astronaut to "ride" the MBS while it moves at a top speed of about 1.5 meters per minute.
P1 and S1 TRUSS
The P1 and S1 trusses (also called the Port and Starboard Side Thermal Radiator Trusses) are attached to the S0 truss, and contain carts to transport the Canadarm2 and astronauts to worksites along the space station. They each flow 290 kg (637 lbs) of anhydrous ammonia through three heat rejection radiators. The S1 truss was launched on STS-112 in October 2002 and the P1 truss was launched on STS-113 in November 2002. Detailed design, test and construction of the S1 and P1 structures was conducted by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) in Huntington Beach, CA.
ESP-2 was detached from its Keel Yoke Assembly (which remained in the Orbiter) and installed with the assistance of Space Shuttle Discovery's robotic arm and two spacewalkers during the STS-114 mission. It is much larger than ESP-1 with eight FRAM sites creating room for up to eight spare parts (ORUs). Like ESP-1, it is powered by the Unity Module. However, unlike ESP-1, ESP-2 is attached to the Quest Joint Airlock using a specialized ESP Attachment Device (ESPAD).
P3/P4 and P5 TRUSS
The P3/P4 truss assembly was installed by the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-115 mission, launched September 9, 2006, and attached to the P1 segment. The P3 and P4 segments together contain a pair of solar arrays, a radiator and a rotary joint that will aim the solar arrays, and connects P3 to P4. Upon its installation, no power was flowing across the rotary joint, so the electricity generated by the P4 solar array wings was only being used on the P4 segment, and not the rest of the station. Then in December 2006 a major electrical rewiring of the station by STS-116 routed this power to the entire grid. The P5 truss was installed on December 12, 2006 during the first EVA of mission STS-116.
The S3/S4 truss assembly—a mirror-image of P3/P4—was installed on June 11, 2007 also by Space Shuttle Atlantis during flight STS-117, mission 13A and mounted to the S1 truss segment.
The Columbus laboratory is ESA's biggest single contribution to the International Space Station. The Columbus module provides internal accommodation for experiments in the field of multidisciplinary research into material science, fluid physics and life science. In addition, an external payload facility hosts experiments and applications in the field of space science, Earth observation and technology demonstrations. It was launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on February 7, 2008 on flight STS-122.
Back in 2004 Germany issued several ISS special postmarks to accompany the stamp on its first day - Nov 4, 2004. Three postmarks were dedicated to Columbus operations - Koln - German Space Agency, Bremen - EADS and Wessling - Space operations control center. Here is a very nice booklet signed by German astronaut Ulrich Walter.
The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed Kibo (Hope), is a Japanese science module for the ISS developed by JAXA. It is the largest single ISS module. The first two pieces of the module were launched on Space Shuttle missions STS-123 and STS-124. The third and final components were launched on STS-127.
On 12 March 2007, the Experiment Logistics Module Pressurized Section (ELM-PS), the main laboratory, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from Japan. It was stored in the Space Station Processing Facility until launched into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour as part of the STS-123 mission.
On 30 May 2003, the Pressurized Module (PM) arrived at KSC from Japan and was launched into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-124 mission. On 3 June 2008 the PM was attached to the Harmony module. The Exposed Facility (EF) and ELM-ES were launched on STS-127, on 15 July 2009.
ELC-1 and 2
An ExPRESS logistics carrier (ELC) is an unpressurized attached payload platform for the ISS that provides mechanical mounting surfaces, electrical power, and command and data handling services for Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) as well as science experiments on the ISS. ELC-1 and ELC-2 were transported to the International Space Station by Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-129 in November 2009.
Rassvet also known as the Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1).The module's design is similar to the Mir Docking Module launched on STS-74 in 1995. Rassvet is primarily used for cargo storage and as a docking port for visiting spacecraft. It was flown to the ISS aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-132 mission on May 14, 2010.
STS-119 delivered the S6 solar arrays to the space station, completing the construction of the Integrated Truss Structure.
The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) is a module of the International Space Station. It was flown into space aboard the Space Shuttle on STS-133 on 24 February 2011 and installed on 1 March. Leonardo is primarily used for storage of spares, supplies and waste on the ISS, which was until then stored in many different places within the space station. The Leonardo PMM was a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) before 2011, but was modified into its current configuration. It was formerly one of three MPLM used for bringing cargo to and from the ISS with the Space Shuttle. The module was named for Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci.
ELC-4 and 3
An ExPRESS logistics carrier (ELC) is an unpressurized attached payload platform for the ISS that provides mechanical mounting surfaces, electrical power, and command and data handling services for Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) as well as science experiments on the ISS. ELC-4 launched on mission STS-133 Discovery on 24 February 2011 and was installed on the station on 27 February. ELC-3 launched on mission STS-134 Endeavour on 16 May 2011 and was installed on the station on 18 May.
The Orbiter Boom Sensor System was a 50-foot boom carried on board Space Shuttle introduced with STS-114. NASA developed a plan to use OBSS on ISS to double the capacity of existing Canadarm structure. The boom was stowed on the ISS S1 Integrated Truss Structure on the fourth spacewalk of STS-134 on May 27, 2011
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an experimental expandable space station module developed by Bigelow Aerospace, under contract to NASA, for testing as a temporary module on the ISS from 2016 to 2018. If BEAM performs favorably, it could lead to development of expandable habitation structures for future crews traveling in deep space. It was delivered to ISS by the Dragon CRS-8 cargo ship and successfully berthed to the Harmony node on April 10, 2016.