Monday, November 2, 2015

International Space Station Celebrates 15 Years of Continuous Human Presence in Space

The International Space Station. Credit: NASA

On Nov. 2, 2000, the Expedition 1 crew to the International Space Station (ISS) docked with the rapidly growing orbital outpost to begin what has become an uninterrupted 15 years of habitation aboard the international complex. This record stands to date as the longest continuous human habitation in space and continues to pave the way for future multi-year missions to Mars. Marking 15 years of continuous ISS habitation, Expedition 45 Commander, Scott Kelly (NASA), along with Year in Space counterpart Mikhail Korniyenko (Roscosmos), were joined by their fellow crewmembers Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos), Kimiya Yui (JAXA), Kjell Lindgren (NASA), and Sergey Volkov (Roscosmos) to mark the anniversary.

“I believe the station should be considered the blueprint for peaceful global cooperation. For more than a decade and a half, it has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 15 countries collaborate to advance shared goals," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

45 crewed expeditions (so far) -- more than 220 people from 17 countries -- have visited the station, constructed over more than 115 space flights conducted on five different types of launch vehicles. The station now measures 357 feet end-to-end and provides more livable room than a conventional six bedroom house. 22 scientific investigations were conducted during Expedition 1, while a total of 191 scientific investigations will be conducted during Expeditions 45 and 46. To date, more than 1,200 scientific results publications have been produced based on over 1,760 research investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

“For 15 years, humanity’s reach has extended beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Since 2000, human beings have been living continuously aboard the space station, where they have been working off-the-Earth for the benefit of Earth, advancing scientific knowledge, demonstrating new technologies, and making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space,” Bolden said.

As NASA and its international partners look toward placing human beings on Mars by the 2030s and 2040s, work currently being conducted aboard the ISS is providing NASA a pathway toward Mars.

In this way, NASA has invested physical, psychological, and technological-based research into the crews aboard the Space Station.

“The International Space Station is a unique laboratory that has enabled groundbreaking research in the life and physical sciences and has provided a test bed for the technologies that will allow NASA to once again send astronauts beyond Earth’s orbit. The international partnership that built and maintains the Station is a shining example, moreover, of what humanity can accomplish when we work together in peace," said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

This Dec. 2, 2000, photograph shows the configuration of the space station at the start of Expedition 1 including the Zarya Control Module, Unity Node, Zvezda Service Module and Z1-Truss. It was taken by STS-97 crewmembers aboard shuttle Endeavour during approach to dock with the station on a mission to deliver and connect the first set of U.S.-provided solar arrays, prepare a docking port for arrival of the U.S. Laboratory Destiny and perform additional station assembly tasks. The Expedition 1 crew spent four months living and working on the station and returned to Earth aboard shuttle Discovery on March 21, 2001.
This Dec. 2, 2000, photograph shows the configuration of the space station at the start of Expedition 1 including the Zarya Control Module, Unity Node, Zvezda Service Module and Z1-Truss. It was taken by STS-97 crewmembers aboard shuttle Endeavour during approach to dock with the station on a mission to deliver and connect the first set of U.S.-provided solar arrays, prepare a docking port for arrival of the U.S. Laboratory Destiny and perform additional station assembly tasks. The Expedition 1 crew spent four months living and working on the station and returned to Earth aboard shuttle Discovery on March 21, 2001. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station was built in collaboration by 16 countries -- the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The ISS is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of five miles per second, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. The station facilitates the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit, operating as a national laboratory for scientific research and facilitating the development of U.S. commercial cargo and commercial crew space transportation capabilities.

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