10 Fascinating Facts About the International Space Station

Onboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts can witness the sunrise and sunset a total of sixteen times within a 24-hour period.

While it is commonly known that the ISS is orbiting the Earth and that important scientific experiments are being carried out, there are many more fascinating facts surrounding this technological wonder that most people are unaware of.

In this article, we will explore some of the most intriguing facts about the ISS that will leave you amazed and wanting to know more.

The International Space Station was constructed between 1998 and 2011.

The ISS was not built by a single nation but rather was a collaboration between multiple national space agencies. Modules were created by the US, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada throughout the 90s and early 2000s. The actual assembly began in 1998 with the launch of the first module, the Russian-made Zarya, on a Proton rocket.

The remaining modules were transported to the ISS by NASA’s Space Shuttles.

The ISS was not inhabited until 2000.

The first crew to live aboard the ISS were shipped there on the Russian Soyuz TM-31 spacecraft in November 2000 as Expedition 1. The crew consisted of two Russian cosmonauts, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev, and an American astronaut, Bill Shepherd, who served as the mission’s commander. All three had extensive experience in space, with Krikalev having spent a year aboard the Soviet MIR Space Station.

The ISS is constantly evolving.

As of 2011, the ISS had more than 150 components and fourteen pressurized modules, with over 1,000 hours of astronaut time connecting all the pieces. Five more modules were added over the next eleven years, and additional modules are already in development.

Astronauts aboard the ISS have to do intense daily exercises.

Living in space is not ideal for the human body. The near-absence of gravity can cause bone density loss and muscle atrophy, which is why daily exercise is crucial to prevent these issues.

The crew aboard the ISS can see the sunrise and sunset 16 times in 24 hours.

As the ISS orbits the Earth every 1.5 hours, astronauts can witness the sunrise and sunset multiple times in a day. This can wreak havoc on their sleep schedules since they cannot lie down in bed due to microgravity. Instead, they sleep in sleeping bags attached to the walls of the crew cabins.

Most research conducted aboard the ISS focuses on living in space.

When the astronauts are not sleeping, eating, or relaxing, they are conducting advanced scientific experiments. These experiments include growing plants in microgravity, testing how well microbes can survive in space, studying the effects of space on DNA, and even researching whether normal human reproduction is possible in space.

The latter has not yet been tested on humans, but various animal tests have been conducted, which have yielded unfavorable results. Some experiments carried out on the ISS involve studying the stars. The ISS has instruments that are designed to observe the universe to better understand its functioning. The NICER instrument studies neutron stars, the densest objects in the universe. On the other hand, physicists use the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to capture and analyze cosmic rays, which are fundamental constituents of the universe, to learn more about its origins. The ISS is likely the most expensive object ever built, with a total cost of $150 billion by 2010. The longest time spent on the ISS by an astronaut is 340 days. Russian cosmonaut Mikhael Kornienko and American astronaut Scott Kelly hold the record for spending the most time aboard the ISS. The ISS will not stay in space indefinitely as its modules are already quite outdated. Although it could theoretically stay in space for much longer than planned, it will eventually become obsolete. NASA has announced plans to de-orbit the ISS in January 2031 and crash it into a remote part of the South Pacific Ocean. Despite its eventual fate, the ISS will always remain a beacon of hope for peaceful and productive international cooperation.

FAQ

1. How fast does the International Space Station travel?

The International Space Station orbits the Earth at a speed of approximately 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour). This means that it completes one orbit around the Earth every 90 minutes.

2. How long has the International Space Station been in space?

The International Space Station has been in space for over 20 years. It was launched on November 20, 1998, and has been continuously inhabited by astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2, 2000.

3. How big is the International Space Station?

The International Space Station is approximately the size of a football field. It measures 357 feet (109 meters) in length and 240 feet (73 meters) in width. The habitable volume of the station is about the same as a five-bedroom house.

4. How many countries have contributed to the International Space Station?

The International Space Station is a collaborative project between five space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). Therefore, five countries have contributed to the construction and operation of the station.

5. How many people can live on the International Space Station?

The International Space Station has a maximum capacity of six people. However, the usual crew size is three or four people.

6. How do astronauts and cosmonauts eat on the International Space Station?

Astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station eat food that has been specially prepared and packaged for spaceflight. The food is stored in containers and packages that are designed to be lightweight and easy to open. Most of the food is dehydrated or vacuum-sealed to make it easier to transport and store in the limited space available.

7. How do astronauts and cosmonauts sleep on the International Space Station?

Astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station sleep in small, individual crew cabins. These cabins are about the size of a telephone booth and are located throughout the station. Each cabin has a sleeping bag and a pillow, as well as a laptop computer for personal use.

8. What is the purpose of the International Space Station?

The International Space Station serves as a laboratory for scientific research in space. The experiments conducted on the station cover a wide range of topics, including biology, physics, astronomy, and meteorology. Additionally, the station serves as a testing ground for new technologies and techniques for long-duration spaceflight.

9. How long do astronauts and cosmonauts typically stay on the International Space Station?

Astronauts and cosmonauts typically stay on the International Space Station for six months at a time. This is the length of a standard mission rotation, and it allows the crew to conduct a significant amount of research and experiments while in space.

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