EXPLORATION - What has gone before...
The International Space Station (ISS)

When you exit the Visitors Center into the courtyard this is the ISS mural you will see on your left.  The flags represent every nation that has a role with the ISS.  (Photographed by BLPlummer)
Logo image courtesy of NASA
The International Space Station (ISS) grew out of an earlier U.S. project, Space Station Freedom .  Our space shuttles were constructed to transport and assemble the ISS.  Our space shuttles not only served as the backbone for the ISS construction but deployment and servicing satellites, the Hubble Space Telescope and shared the honor of transporting multi-national astronauts.  The ISS construction sequence can be found here.

The first ISS module was the Zarya Control Module built and launched by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).  It was three years late delaying the actual ISS construction start.  On the third year under an agreement with NASA and ROSCOSMOS the United States provided full funding for salaries, material and more to have it completed.   (This is a fact but you will need to dig for it.)

Loss  of shuttles Challenger and Columbia, a safety report (prepared by some with Commercial Space Interests) and impending completion of the ISS led to the decision that the Shuttle Program would be terminated after ISS completion.  The decision was reached during the Bush administration.  NASA had performed some future planning resulting in the CONSTELLATION program that Bush endorsed.  To me this was a 40-year back step.  However the program had another objective - a return to the Moon with the construction of a lunar base.

The ISS was considered completed with the landing of shuttle ATLANTIS on July 21, 2011.