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25 years of the International Space Station

  • Published
    25th Nov, 2023

On the Occasion of 25 years of launch of International Space Station (ISS) there is recall to recognize its efforts to facilitate science and symbolizes international collaboration, peace, and diplomacy.

When did the International Space Station launch?

  • The first part of the International Space Station (ISS), called ‘Zarya’, was launched by Russia on November 20, 1998. It provided fuel, power, and a docking zone for other spacecraft.
  • A month later, on December 4, 1998, the United States launched the Unity Node 1 module.
  • Together with Zarya, they formed the beginning of the ISS, which, through 42 assembly flights, evolved into a fully functional space laboratory.

Details about International Space station (ISS):

  • The ISS is equipped with various spaces for daily activities, including six sleeping quarters, two bathrooms, a gym, and a unique 360-degree view bay window.
  • Dimensions: Measuring 109 meters (357 feet) end-to-end, the ISS is almost the length of a full American football field, including the end zones.
  • It surpasses the length of an Olympic swimming pool by more than twice. However, it is shorter than SpaceX's Starship by 12 meters.
  • Speed of travel: The ISS orbits Earth numerous times in one day — every 90 minutes to be precise — at a speed of 8 kilometers (5 miles) per second.
  • The ISS boasts a solar array wingspan of 109 meters, exceeding the wingspan of the largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 (79.8 meters).
  • Additionally, the space station is intricately wired, with about 13 kilometers of electrical wires running through its structure.

Significance of ISS:

  • Astronauts have conducted hundreds of scientific experiments on the ISS.

Recent Experiments:

There have been discoveries to benefit drug development, new water purification systems, methods to mitigate muscle and bone atrophy and those that have led innovations in food production.

  • They experiment on themselves, monitoring their general health, nutrition or the effects of solar radiation.
  • They also conduct experiments for scientists on Earth. These experiments have led to numerous scientific breakthroughs.
  • From Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to cancer, asthma and heart disease — it’s all been studied in space.
  • Scientists say some medical experiments are best done in space because cells behave in microgravity more like they do inside the human body, but it’s difficult to recreate such conditions on Earth.

How long will the ISS be operational?

  • Plans for the future operation of the ISS were thrown into uncertainty with the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.
  • Due to geopolitical tensions, both the European Space Agency and national bodies have withdrawn from collaborations with Russia.
  • Beyond geopolitical factors, various spacefaring nations, including Japan, China, India, and the United Arab Emirates, are eager to establish their presence in space independently.
  • While the US and Europe express commitment to the ISS until 2030, NASA focuses on its Artemis program for lunar exploration, and the European Space Agency (ESA) is actively working on a new space station named Starlab.
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