350 kilometers up in space orbits the The International Space Station (ISS). It was launched back in 1998 and it’s been the home of astronauts since, making it one the longest uninterrupted human space flight mission to date. It beat the old record of almost 10 years (or 3,634 days) held by the Russian space station Mir. It is definitely an interesting place, and today we’re going to bring 10 interesting facts about the ISS.
5 Space Agencies
The ISS is a joint project of 5 space agencies which include US space agency NASA, Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian space agency (CSA). Over a 100,000 people across the world have collaborated to make the ISS possible.
3rd Brightest Object In The Night Sky
As the ISS passes over head, it sometimes captures sunlight which makes the ISS shine really bright. It’s the 3rd brightest object in the night sky, the only things brighter than the ISS are the Sun and the Moon. It has an apparent magnitude (a measure of how bright things are in the sky) of -5.6, Venus, which is the brightest planet in the night sky, has an apparent magnitude just below -5.
You Can See It From Earth
The ISS is visible to 90% of the population. You can go out and see it! There are plenty of websites and astronomy apps out there that let you know when the ISS is going to make a visible pass in your area, and help you track the current location of the ISS.
The International Space Station gets all its energy from the Sun. Its got over 250,000 solar cells that provide. Laid side-to-side the solar panels span an acre, and they can generate up to 110 killowatts -that’s enough to power 55 homes.
Since the ISS orbits the earth at a speed of 7 km/s, it takes it around 90 minutes to complete one orbit. Astronauts on-board the ISS can see the sunrise 16 times and watch the sunset 17 times.
The Price Tag
It’s estimated that the ISS cost around $100 billion to complete, making the ISS the most expensive single object ever built. The price comes close the entire amount of money spent on the Apollo moon missions.
700,000 Images Downloaded Every Month
700,000 images are downloaded every month by teachers, students and scientists from “The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth”, NASA’s website that hosts all the images taken by the astronauts on the ISS. They issue a weekly top 10 list, you can go ahead and check it out here.
There’s tons of space debris out in orbit, and the ISS has to constantly watch out for that. NASA keeps track of all space debris in the Space Station’s path, and keeps the astronauts alert about possible hazards. If things get tight, the astronauts are prepared to escape in a Soyuz capsule. The hazardous environment in orbit makes the ISS a dangerous place to work for scientists and astronauts.
The International Space Station is based on Mir 2, successor of the Mir Space Station, that was in development back in 1976. Some of the modules used in the ISS were originally designed for the Mir-2. The Zvezda module was originally designed to be the core of Mir-2.
You can Spend A Week In The ISS
Space Adventures is a company that sends civilians into space for a premium price: $20-30 million. That’s correct, if you could afford the insane price tag, you could go to the International Space Station. So far, only 7 civilians have gone to the Space Station. Dennis Tito was the first civilian in space, he spent eight days in orbit on-board the ISS.
If you can’t afford a trip to the ISS, you can at least own a cool scale model of the International Space Station on Amazon
Those have been 10 interesting facts that you didn’t know about the International Space Station. Stick around and check our other interesting articles here at eTechMag.