January 2031. This is the date that NASA set as the end date for the International Space Station (ISS), the largest terrestrial laboratory in orbit. And although it still has a decade of operation left, we review some of the International Space Station milestones To the date.
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The ISS (or ISS, for its acronym in English), which orbits the Earth at an average altitude of 400 kilometers, is a multinational project between the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (Roscosmos), Japan (JAXA), Europe (ESA) and Canada (CSA).
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The continuation of programs such as the American Skylab or the Soviet (later Russian) Mir station, it is the largest artificial object in space. And these are the main milestones throughout its history.
First segment of the ISS
On November 20, 1998, the Zarya control module, the first segment of the ISS, was sent. Launched aboard a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, the module provided fuel storage, battery power and docking capabilities for the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.
First inhabitants of the ISS
The American William Shepherd and the Russians Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikaliov were the first crew members of the Space Station, in what was called Expedition 1. They took off on November 2, 2000 and spent 136 days on the ISS. Since then the human presence in the station has been uninterrupted. Originally the ISS could receive up to three astronauts, but today it has doubled its capacity.
Increased human presence in space
At over 21 years old as of February 2022, the ISS holds the record for hosting the longest continuous presence of humans in low-Earth orbit in history. It is expected to reach 30 years, when it is retired by NASA. The previous record was held by the Russian Mir space station, which had a presence for 9 years, 11 months and 23 days.
How many astronauts have visited the ISS
More than 240 astronauts and space tourists from 19 nations have visited the space station as of February 2022. More than 80 percent of its inhabitants have been Americans (153) and Russians (50), but there have also been Japanese, Canadians, Italians, French and Germans.
In addition, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom have all had representation with an astronaut in the history of the ISS.
Longest spacewalk in history
Two inhabitants of the ISS are also protagonists of the longest spacewalk in history. They are the American astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms, who on March 11, 2001 spent 8 hours and 56 minutes during assembly tasks, on the Station’s second mission.
Record stay on the ISS
American astronauts Scott Kelly and Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko hold the record for longest stay aboard the International Space Station. Both completed a one-year mission on the spacecraft, between March 27, 2015 and March 1, 2016.
Before Blue Origin or SpaceX, the ISS starred in the first space tourism flights. Between 2001 and 2009, seven private astronauts paid between $20 million and $25 million to spend ten days in the laboratory, on trips that were organized by Space Adventures.