Important Things You Need to Know About the International Space Station

Humanity has a great debt of gratitude to science for explaining the great mysteries our vast universe has to offer. Through years of experiments and countless studies, scientists from around the world have created theories and even uncovered undeniable facts to bring us closer to a degree of universal truth. That being said, are you aware of the most daring and groundbreaking science experiment that has been going on for decades?

Imagine a state-of-the-art science laboratory equipped with the top-of-the-line equipment the world has to offer, flying about 240 miles above the Earth’s surface with speeds of over 17,500 miles per hour. That is the International Space Station or ISS. It is a collaboration amongst international space agencies, whose mission is to uncover the origin of the cosmos among many other things.

How It Started

During the mid-’80s, American President Ronal Reagan administered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA to create a 10-year plan to build the ISS. At first, NASA turned their investments to partner up with the Europeans and the Japanese and would later invite the Russians in 1993, given that they had the most comprehensive experience with regards to the operation of an orbital space station. By 1998, all systems were a go!

In 1998, the construction of the ISS commenced, and the plan was to build a modular craft, which would integrate each of the international space agency’s segments. The first module into space that year was given credit to the Russians, named Zarya Control Module, which originally provided the ISS’s solar power, altitude control function and propulsion, and communications. Nowadays, it is mainly used for storage. Two weeks later, NASA’s Endeavour brought up Unity, the main module which connects the Russian segment with the US segment of the ISS. By the year 2000, the first ISS crew inhabited the orbital space station, which included Sergei Krikalev, Yuri Gidzenko, and Bill Shepherd. Ever since, the ISS has been inhabited by rotating space crews.

How It’s Going

The ISS is typically crewed by three to six astronauts, who can move to and from the different segments owned by the different international space agencies. While the construction is still ongoing, their accumulated investments have built it to be as big as an American football field, and the Russians plan to fly in a new science space module in the near future. Both their segments and the American portion comprise the majority of the modules, and they are responsible for powering the space laboratory and hosting the docking ports and living premises.

The biggest module to date on the ISS is the Kibo, which is located on the American side of the segment and is owned by the Japanese. This area is given credit for handling experiments in space vacuums, and if you’ve seen the magnificent pictures of our planet from space taken by the ISS, the Tranquility module right next to it is the one responsible for them and is owned by Europeans.

Another innovation by the ISS is the inflatable habitat, which was sent in through the investment money dished out by NASA in 2016. It’s named the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which may truly pave the way for future space tourism.

Why the ISS Should Matter

The ISS is the most comprehensive and experienceable on-going science experiment on space-living and space survivability through the hard work of our world’s finest scientists. It is the best place to challenge human capabilities to thrive in alien environments, which could lead the way to future space living. The ISS contributes the best studies of how our complex biology can cope with off-world conditions.

We should give exceptional credit to the scientists that live on the ISS. Some of the conditions that they have to adapt to include microgravity, increased radiation exposure, limited human contact, and confined living areas, among many others. Moreover, they experience sunrises and sunsets 16 times a day, and they have to go through extensive daily exercise routines to maintain healthy bones to combat the side effects of microgravity.

As of now, the ISS is scheduled to operate until 2024, however, future plans of the combined efforts of the international space agencies may lead to the extension of the trail-blazing initiative.

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