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The International Space Station is a low-orbit space station used as a research laboratory and is inhabited year-round by humans. There are 17 countries cooperating on the ISS project and the first modules were launched in 1998.

International Space Station Make Your Own

The International Space Station is a space station inhabited by astronauts from around the world. It is a program organized by five different space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ISS is in orbit with an average altitude of 330 km. The space station makes a full orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes, meaning the space station has an average speed of five miles per second. The strength of gravity at the position of the ISS’s orbit is only slightly weaker than it is on Earth. This microgravity environment is caused by the ISS being in freefall as it orbits the Earth.

The ISS was assembled in modules with the first going into orbit in 1998. Since then, more modules from the international cooperating states have been added. Currently there are 15 modules which are connected together.

The main purpose of the ISS is to provide a place in microgravity to carry out research in space. Research is carried out in a wide range of different scientific fields such as meteorology, astrobiology, and materials sciences. Research is also carried out on the astronauts themselves while they are in space; scientists want to find out how the human body reacts to spending large amounts of time in a microgravity environment. It could also be used as a base for future missions to other places in our solar system.

The ISS is powered by large double-sided solar arrays. This way the arrays can absorb light from the Sun, but also absorb reflected light from the Earth. These solar panels are connected to batteries, allowing the station to be powered when it is not in the sunlight.

The USA and Russia have confirmed that they will continue funding the space station until 2024.

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Other Space Stations

  • Salyut/Almaz - Russia (1971 - 1986)
  • Skylab - USA (1973 - 1979)
  • Mir - Russia (1986 - 2000)
  • Tiangong - China (2011 - Present Day)
Learn more about the stars and other celestial bodies in our Picture Encyclopedia of Astronomy Terms!
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