International Space Station

International Space Station
A forward view of the International Space Station with limb of the Earth in the background. In view are the station's sixteen paired maroon-coloured main solar array wings, eight on either side of the station, mounted to a central integrated truss structure. Spaced along the truss are ten white radiators. Mounted to the base of the two rightmost main solar arrays pairs, there are two smaller paired light brown- coloured ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays. Attached to the centre of the truss is a cluster of pressurised modules arranged in an elongated T shape. A set of solar arrays are mounted to the module at the aft end of the cluster.
Oblique forward view in November 2021
Station statistics
COSPAR ID1998-067A
SATCAT no.25544
Call signAlpha, Station
Launch20 November 1998 (1998-11-20)
Launch pad
Mass450,000 kg (990,000 lb)[2][full citation needed]
Length109 m (358 ft) (overall length), 94 m (310 ft) (truss length)[3]
Width73 m (239 ft) (solar array length)[3]
Pressurised volume1,005.0 m3 (35,491 cu ft)[3]
Atmospheric pressure101.3 kPa (14.7 psi; 1.0 atm)
79% nitrogen, 21% oxygen
Perigee altitude413 km (256.6 mi) AMSL[4]
Apogee altitude422 km (262.2 mi) AMSL[4]
Orbital inclination51.64°[4]
Orbital speed7.66 km/s[4][failed verification]27,600 km/h; 17,100 mph
Orbital period92.9 minutes[5]
Orbits per day15.49[4]
Orbit epoch16 August 16:19:30 [6]
Days in orbit24 years, 10 months, 1 day
(21 September 2023)
Days occupied22 years, 10 months, 19 days
(21 September 2023)
No. of orbits141,117 as of August 2023[6]
Orbital decay2 km/month
Statistics as of 22 December 2022
(unless noted otherwise)
References: [3][4][7][8][9]
The components of the ISS in an exploded diagram, with modules on-orbit highlighted in orange.
Station elements as of December 2022
(exploded view)

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest modular space station in low Earth orbit. The project involves five space agencies: the United States' NASA, Russia's Roscosmos, Japan's JAXA, Europe's ESA, and Canada's CSA.[10][11] The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.[12] The station serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific research is conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.[13][14] The ISS is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.[15]

The ISS programme evolved from the Space Station Freedom, a 1984 American proposal conceived by Ronald Reagan[16] to construct a permanently crewed Earth-orbiting station,[17] and the contemporaneous Soviet/Russian Mir-2 proposal from 1976 with similar aims. The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations and the American Skylab. It is the largest artificial object in the Solar System and the largest satellite in low Earth orbit, regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth's surface.[18][19] It maintains an orbit with an average altitude of 400 kilometres (250 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda Service Module or visiting spacecraft.[20] The ISS circles the Earth in roughly 93 minutes, completing 15.5 orbits per day.[21]

The station is divided into two sections: the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) is operated by Russia, while the United States Orbital Segment (USOS) is run by the United States as well as other countries. The Russian segment includes six habitable modules. The US segment includes seven habitable modules, whose support services are distributed 76.6% for NASA, 12.8% for JAXA, 8.3% for ESA and 2.3% for CSA. The length along the major axis of the pressurized sections is 218 ft (66 m), and the total habitable volume of these sections is 13,696 cu ft (387.8 m3).[3]

Roscosmos had previously[22][23] endorsed the continued operation of ROS through 2024,[24] having proposed using elements of the segment to construct a new Russian space station called OPSEK.[25] However, continued cooperation has been rendered uncertain by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions on Russia, which may cause changes in funding on their side of the space station.[22][23]

The first ISS component was launched in 1998, and the first long-term residents arrived on 2 November 2000 after being launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 31 October 2000.[26] The station has since been continuously occupied for 22 years and 323 days,[27] the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, having surpassed the previous record of 9 years and 357 days held by the Mir space station. The latest major pressurised module, Nauka, was fitted in 2021, a little over ten years after the previous major addition, Leonardo in 2011. In January 2022, the station's operation authorization was extended to 2030, with funding secured within the United States through that year.[28][29] There have been calls to privatize ISS operations after that point to pursue future Moon and Mars missions, with former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stating: "given our current budget constraints, if we want to go to the moon and we want to go to Mars, we need to commercialize low Earth orbit and go on to the next step."[30]

The ISS consists of pressurised habitation modules, structural trusses, photovoltaic solar arrays, thermal radiators, docking ports, experiment bays and robotic arms. Major ISS modules have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and US Space Shuttles.[31] The station is serviced by a variety of visiting spacecraft: the Russian Soyuz and Progress, the SpaceX Dragon 2, and the Northrop Grumman Space Systems Cygnus,[32] and formerly the American Space Shuttle, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle,[10] and SpaceX Dragon 1. The Dragon spacecraft allows the return of pressurised cargo to Earth, which is used, for example, to repatriate scientific experiments for further analysis. As of April 2022, 251 astronauts, cosmonauts, and space tourists from 20 different nations have visited the space station, many of them multiple times.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference :2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "ISS: International Space Station".
  3. ^ a b c d e Garcia, Mark (5 January 2023). "About the Space Station: Facts and Figures". NASA. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Peat, Chris (21 May 2021). "ISS – Orbit". Heavens-Above. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  5. ^ Holman, Joseph (12 October 2022). "ISS (ZARYA)". Satellite Tracking. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b "ARISS TLE". ARISS TLE. 16 August 2023. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference OnOrbit was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ "STS-132 Press Kit" (PDF). NASA. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  9. ^ "STS-133 FD 04 Execute Package" (PDF). NASA. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  10. ^ a b Kitmacher, Gary (2006). Reference Guide to the International Space Station. Apogee Books Space Series. Canada: Apogee Books. pp. 71–80. ISBN 978-1-894959-34-6. ISSN 1496-6921.
  11. ^ "Human Spaceflight and Exploration – European Participating States". European Space Agency (ESA). 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  12. ^ "International Space Station legal framework". European Space Agency (ESA). 19 November 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Fields of Research". NASA. 26 June 2007. Archived from the original on 23 January 2008.
  14. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "Getting on Board". NASA. 26 June 2007. Archived from the original on 8 December 2007.
  15. ^ "ISS Research Program". NASA. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  16. ^ "Celebrating the International Space Station (ISS)". 19 June 2020.
  17. ^ Roberts, Jason (19 June 2020). "Celebrating the International Space Station (ISS)". NASA.
  18. ^ "Central Research Institute for Machine Building (FGUP TSNIIMASH) Control of manned and unmanned space vehicles from Mission Control Centre Moscow" (PDF). Russian Federal Space Agency. Retrieved 26 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "NASA Sightings Help Page". 30 November 2011. Archived from the original on 5 September 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  20. ^ "NASA – Higher Altitude Improves Station's Fuel Economy". 14 February 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  21. ^ Cite error: The named reference tracking was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  22. ^ a b Harwood, William (26 July 2022). "Russia says it will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024". CBS News. ViacomCBS. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  23. ^ a b Roulette, Joey (26 July 2022). "Russia signals space station pullout, but NASA says it's not official yet". Reuters. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  24. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (25 February 2015). "Russia – and Its Modules – To Part Ways with ISS in 2024". Space News. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  25. ^ Bodner, Matthew (17 November 2014). "Russia May Be Planning National Space Station to Replace ISS". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  26. ^ "First crew starts living and working on the International Space Station". European Space Agency. 31 October 2000.
  27. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "Oct. 31, 2000, Launch of First Crew to International Space Station". NASA. 28 October 2015.
  28. ^ "Biden-Harris Administration Extends Space Station Operations Through 2030 – Space Station". 31 December 2021.
  29. ^ Nelson, Senator Bill (20 December 2018). "The Senate just passed my bill to help commercial space companies launch more than one rocket a day from Florida! This is an exciting bill that will help create jobs and keep rockets roaring from the Cape. It also extends the International Space Station to 2030!".
  30. ^ Cite error: The named reference :1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  31. ^ Catchpole, John E. (2008). The International Space Station: Building for the Future. Springer-Praxis. ISBN 978-0-387-78144-0.
  32. ^ "Northrop Grumman Announces Realigned Operating Sectors". WashingtonExec. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2021.

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