The International Space Station

The second brightest object in our sky, a home from home and the largest object mankind has ever put into space! This week’s Throwback Thursday is all about the International Space Station (ISS)! Locked in Earth’s orbit, the ISS is a multi-nation construction project and is a hub for astronaut research. Time to find out more about this off-world landmark (skymark?!) ... 

The ISS is part of science’s more recent history, coming later than the discovery of our solar system or even space travellers, yet it came as a huge leap for space exploration. It was launched into space back in 1998 and has been continuously inhabited by astronauts aboard since November 2000. In fact, nearly 250 individuals from 19 countries have now visited the station, completing over 230 spacewalks! 

Contributions towards the ISS have been made from 15 nations, with NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia) and the European Space Agency being the major partners. Other partners include the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. An international crew of six live and work in the station in a space that is larger than a six-bedroom home, complete with six sleeping quarters, two bathrooms, a gym and a 360-degree view bay window! We’re wondering whether this is available on Airbnb

Now for some International Space Station facts:

  • From end to end, it comes in at 357ft long, which is about the same as a football pitch
  • It flies around the world once every 90 minutes at five miles per second
  • In 24 hours, the ISS makes 16 orbits of the Earth, travelling through 16 sunrises and sunsets
  • Thanks to the solar panels on the station, the ISS is the second brightest object in the night sky, after the moon - you can even see it without a telescope
  • More than 50 computers control the systems on the station
  • Six spaceships can dock to the station at any one time

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the International Space Station! You can use the European Space Agency’s online tracker to see if you’re able to spot the station in the sky soon!

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