The International Space Station (ISS) is a research space station in orbit around the Earth.
- Its assembly began in November 1998 and its first crew was placed in November 2000. It has been inhabited continuously since that date.
- Development and assembly of the station continues.
- The ISS program is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).
- Soyuz is the only current method to bring people to the ISS. Three astronauts fly to the space station in Soyuz spacecraft and spend about six months there at a time.
How fast and at what altitude is the space station travelling?
The ISS circles the Earth every 90 minutes. It travels at about 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour, which gives the crew 16 sunrises and sunsets every day! It travels at an altitude of about 248 miles (400 km) above Earth.
How to identify the space station in the sky?
It needs to be dark where you are and the space station needs to be overhead in order for you to see it. The space station looks like an airplane or a very bright star moving across the sky, except it doesn’t have flashing lights or change direction. It will also be moving considerably faster than a typical airplane. You can find out when it will pass over your location from the NASA’s website.
Why is the space station up there?
- The international space station is Earth’s only microgravity laboratory. This football field-sized platform hosts a plethora of science and technology experiments that are continuously being conducted by crew members, or are automated.
- Research aboard the orbiting laboratory holds benefits for life back on Earth, as well as for future space exploration.
- The space station serves as a testbed for technologies and allows us to study the impacts of long-term spaceflight to humans, supporting NASA’s mission to push human presence father into space.
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