I.S.S. Ending Explained


  • The ending of I.S.S. delivers a suspenseful climax and highlights the dangers of nationalism.
  • Kira and Alexey, two astronauts from different nationalities, survive the chaos on the space station, emphasizing the importance of working together.
  • The relationship between Gordon and Nika drives the plot, leading to deadly consequences that illustrate the negative repercussions of aligning with countries rather than prioritizing cooperation.

This article contains SPOILERS for I.S.S.

The space thriller I.S.S. has a suspense-packed ending with poignant messages about the dangers of nationalism. I.S.S. starts with two American astronauts, Kira and Christian, arriving at the International Space Station via the Soyuz spacecraft. They soon bond with the other American – Gordon – and the three Russian astronauts – Nika, Nicholai, and Alexey. The characters in I.S.S. agree that when aboard the station, they don’t talk about politics or what’s happening down on Earth. They all work on their own projects, sharing resources with people of the opposite nationality.

After noticing explosions on Earth, they contact their governments, learning that Russia and the United States have gone to war. Each side is told to capture the International Space Station at all costs. Nicholai and Christian quickly decide to align with their countries. Gordon and Nika are hesitant to follow through with their missions. Meanwhile, Kira and Alexey both detest the idea of hurting any of their fellow astronauts. After Nicholai knocks Gordon off the outside the station, both sides start turning on each other. This leads to I.S.S.’s suspenseful ending, which functions as an entertaining parable.


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Who Gets Off The International Space Station Alive In I.S.S.’s Ending

Alexey looks focused in I.S.S.

Throughout I.S.S., the astronauts aboard are trying to kill each other due to orders from their government to gain control of the International Space Station. Additionally, there’s the threat that the station will fall out of the sky. This raises the question of whom, if anyone, gets off the I.S.S. alive. The two people who make it off the station alive are Kira and Alexey. This is important to the theme because the two are of different nationalities.

Kira and Alexey getting off the I.S.S. alive proves that people of different nationalities succeed by working together – a message reinforced earlier in the film when they talk about the lack of borders on Earth. The pair show that they don’t have to support or agree with their governments in order to survive. Rather, they’re resisting all the external pressure to hurt one another – going so far as to turn off the transmissions in the Suyoz, even though it means that they may not make it home safely.

Why Kira Is On The International Space Station

Kira is arguably the main character of I.S.S., but her motivations for coming aboard the International Space Station remain a mystery for half the film. It is eventually revealed that she was a marine who decided to start working on artificial organs after a loved one died from organ failure. However, she found that the organs used in all of her experiments didn’t work because of the gravity. As such, she went to the International Space Station to experiment on artificial organs in a microgravity environment.

Additionally, while it isn’t confirmed as a reason for her being there, it’s heavily implied that Kira’s at the International Space Station in I.S.S. to escape heartbreak. Kira reveals to Gordon that her girlfriend cheated on her and then ran off with the other person. Based on her facial expression when she talks about it, Kira clearly still hurts thinking about the situation.

It’s more important than ever for audiences around the world to hear that working together is crucial, even when countries try to pit their citizens against each other.

Gordon & Nika’s Relationship Explained

This collage shows Gordon and Nika smiling from the movie I.S.S.

The relationship between Gordon and Nika propels the plot of I.S.S. forward. While aboard the International Space Station, they develop feelings for each other, which are revealed when Nika kisses Gordon before he goes out to fix the antenna. After NIcholai knocks Gordon off the outside of the International Space Station and reveals their mission to Nika, she decides to blow up the entire station. She’s grieving the loss of Gordon and angry about the astronauts choosing to align themselves with countries. Christian kills her to prevent her from destroying the entire I.S.S.

Then, after Alexey discovers Gordon alive and saves him, Gordon starts asking for Nika. Upon learning of her demise, he goes after Nicholai, blaming him for what happened. Gordon locks them into a chamber separate from the others and attacks him. This is a mini-climax in the plot of the movie, resulting in both Gordon and Nicholai’s deaths. This leaves only three astronauts alive on the International Space Station.


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What Happened To The Rats In I.S.S.

This image shows a rat in a cage.

In I.S.S., Kira is using rats for experiments aboard the International Space Station. Alexey warns her that they don’t usually do well in that environment. Shortly after that, Kira finds that half of her rats are dead because the others killed them. This is important because the rats on the I.S.S. represent the crew members.

When confined in the International Space Station, they have two options – fighting until they kill each other or holding onto something bigger than them, like science. With both the rats and humans, they end up doing the former. Additionally, Alexey gives the rats a net to hold onto before the end of I.S.S., happily surprising Kira. This moment drives home the point of the movie that everyone is better off when they work together. Without Alexey’s compassion, the last two rats would’ve killed each other, just like the original ones did.

What Causes The War On Earth In I.S.S. Explained

The Earth is on fire behind the International Space Station in the I.S.S.

The action of I.S.S. starts when the astronauts see explosions on Earth. They soon learn from their respective governments that Russia and Earth are at war with each other. However, the film does not provide much context for what happened. There’s no clear answer about who struck first or why they attacked. It’s heavily implied, though, that the war is nuclear.

Russia and the United States both have most of the world’s nuclear weapons, making it probable they would use them if war broke out between the two massive countries. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station are also discussing a cure for radiation poisoning. Moreover, the bombs look similar to how it’s theorized that nuclear bombs would look from space.

How I.S.S. Examines The Relationship Between Nationalism & Science

Nika reaches out her hand and everyone celebrates as new astronauts board the I.S.S.

When Kira and Christian first arrive at the International Space Station in I.S.S., they learn that there are no politics aboard. They ignore what’s going on Earth to prioritize science and learning. After war breaks out on Earth, the scientists are forced to choose between allegiance to their country or to their studies. If they turn on each other, they’re going against the very foundation of the International Space Station – a place intended to encourage cooperative science.

I.S.S.’s ending reinforces that nationalism is the antithesis of science. Kira and Alexey work together physically to take down Christian – the embodiment of nationalism – because he couldn’t put aside their mission to take control of the International Space Station. This decision protects scientific advancements, like the radiation poisoning cure, that could help the world.

The True Meaning Of I.S.S.’s Ending

The astronauts pose for a photo in I.S.S.

When Kira first boards the International Space Station in I.S.S., Nika teaches her the Russian phrase that means, “The important thing is that we stick together.” She struggles to replicate it since she speaks very little Russian but practices it as a sign of deference. It’s important and foreshadowing that Kira doesn’t put her own language and culture above that of the Russian astronauts.

At the suspenseful climax of I.S.S., Kira says the phrase in Russian to Alexey. This signals to him that she doesn’t espouse the same nationalistic ideals as Christian and wants to work together. While I.S.S. blatantly states its core message many times, it’s more important than ever for audiences around the world to hear that working together is crucial, even when countries try to pit their citizens against each other.

ISS Movie Poster


Release Date
January 19, 2024

Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Ariana DeBose , Chris Messina , Pilou Asbæk , John Gallagher Jr. , Costa Ronin , Maria Mashkova

95 Minutes

Nick Shafir

LD Entertainment

Bleecker Street

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