What is the International Space Station (ISS)? The ISS is a spacecraft 240 miles away from earth. The ISS started in 1998. It was then completed 13 years later in 2011. It is somewhat difficult to go to the ISS. There are two ways that you can get there. You can get there by our U.S. Space Shuttle, or by a Russian Soyuz Space Craft. It is international because 16 countries built it! So remember, the ISS isn’t just for us, it’s international!