ISS: Humans have been living on the International Space Station for 20 years

Since that preliminary 136-day keep for Expedition 1, the area station has served as a hub for steady human occupation, scientific analysis and a proving floor for future area exploration for 20 years. It has hosted 241 people from 19 international locations and required the cooperation and collaboration of 15 nations to construct the area station.

Crews have carried out greater than 227 spacewalks to construct and preserve the area station — together with the first all-female spacewalk in 2019 by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir.

When Expedition 1 arrived, the area station was “very new, very clean, much emptier than it is now,” Krikalev stated throughout a press convention Thursday. As the first crew, they began with the fundamentals: turning on the lights and getting ready one thing sizzling to drink after spending two days in the Russian Soyuz capsule earlier than arrival.

Although it might sound mundane, they by no means had a mean day throughout their keep, Shepherd stated throughout a press convention Thursday. Each day introduced a brand new set of challenges, and so they labored by means of countless checklists to arrange and put together the area station for future crews.

But they started a practice that has continued for 20 years of sitting down round a desk 3 times a day for communal meals.

And this mealtime custom, which has helped the expedition crews to bond and observe normalcy as their soccer field-size dwelling orbits Earth at 17,500 miles per hour, is precisely how the present crew will have a good time the anniversary.

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“It’s an incredible honor for us to be up here on the 20th anniversary,” stated Kate Rubins throughout a press convention Friday from the area station. “We all feel very lucky. We’ll have a simple dinner celebration. On the ISS, we really enjoy getting together and having dinners. And the three of us will take a nice long view out of cupola to appreciate both Earth and the space station.”

The cupola is the area station’s seven-window observatory. There, the crew can witness the 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets the area station experiences every day.

Rubins, together with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, arrived at the area station on October 14. It’s the second expedition for each Rubins and Ryzhikov.

“Since the anniversary is on a Monday, we’ll be celebrating through hard work,” Kud-Sverchkov stated. “And we will be remembering those who have been flying here for 20 years and all the 63 expeditions here before us. We really appreciate them.”

An orbiting laboratory

Since her first keep on the area station in 2016, Rubins stated that not a lot has modified — besides there may be now extra scientific gear for new forms of experiments.

Early in the area station program, the most important focus was on assembling and constructing the area station. After that was accomplished in 2011, the focus has shifted to science.

More than 3,000 scientific investigations from researchers living in 108 totally different international locations and territories have been carried out on the area station. This analysis has spanned a large number of disciplines together with area science, biology, human physiology, bodily sciences, materials science, instructional actions and expertise demonstrations that profit from the absence of gravity.
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Students from elementary college to school have been capable of take part in conversations with astronauts on the station, ship up experiments and find out about the impression of microgravity.

The thousands and thousands of images astronauts have taken from the station’s cupola assist catastrophe response and research of Earth and its altering local weather.

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While the analysis carried out on the area station sheds mild on how a spread of issues, together with the human physique, react to the lack of gravity, it has additionally been used to enhance our lives on Earth.

Through experiments on the station, we have realized higher methods to purify air and water in our houses, developed developments in telemedicine, found much less invasive testing strategies, improved wound remedy with chilly plasmas and located higher remedies for ailments like most cancers by means of protein-crystal-growth research.

New phenomena have additionally been found on the station, like how fluids react in area and steadily burning cool flames, which burn at temperatures cooler than a candle and might be used to cut back engine emissions on Earth.

Firsts and breakthroughs

The area station has been dwelling to many scientific firsts. The first merchandise to be 3D-printed on the area station occurred in 2014. Rubins sequenced DNA in area for the first time in 2016. And the fifth state of matter, referred to as a Bose-Einstein condensate, was produced in area by NASA’s Cold Atom Lab on the station in 2018.

“It’s really phenomenal up here,” Rubins stated. “It’s been completely outfitted for science, like taking a world class university and shrinking it down to the size of the space station.”

Astronauts have realized the right way to develop lettuces and leafy greens in area. The first space-grown salad was sampled by astronauts in 2015. Now, they’re even rising radishes on the station. This might be used to in the future assist astronauts develop their very own meals on deep area missions.

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Astronauts have additionally studied their very own well being in area. In the absence of gravity, the human physique can expertise adjustments in imaginative and prescient, cognition and effective motor expertise in addition to muscle and bone loss. Crews on the area station work out twice a day to mitigate bone and muscle loss and usually gather knowledge about themselves to higher perceive adjustments they expertise.

This consists of the groundbreaking Twins Study, the place NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 consecutive days on the area station. Everything from the most superficial adjustments all the way down to shifts in gene expression had been in contrast along with his an identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who served as a management in the experiment on Earth. Mark Kelly was additionally a NASA astronaut and is now running for the US Senate from Arizona.

The examine outcomes steered that human well being may be “mostly sustained” for a yr in area. But it additionally revealed areas which will require countermeasures or safeguards when getting ready for longer area missions or missions to deep area, like Mars.

This will assist NASA and different area businesses as they plan future human missions in deep area.

Looking forward

NASA has licensed the area station by means of 2024 and its {hardware} by means of 2028, and so they count on it to be round for years to return as the dwelling of a large number of thrilling scientific outcomes, Rubins stated.

It’s not all about the science experiments, although. The crew additionally spend their time performing routine upkeep every week, changing components and fixing the rest room. (There’s lastly one designed with women in mind.)

The present crew stated if something, they’d like to see an improve to the quantity of the area station with extra modules. Russia will launch its liveable Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka, which suggests “science” in Russian, in April. And the US has plans to put in industrial modules on the area station going ahead.

“We welcome any and all modules, especially if they have stowage space,” Rubins stated.

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The crew can be getting ready to welcome the NASA SpaceX Crew-1 flight when it launches on November 14, which can deliver the complete astronauts on the station to seven.

Crew-1 will carry 4 extra astronauts to the area station by means of the company’s Commercial Crew program: NASA astronauts Victor Glover Jr., Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.

NASA’s Commercial Crew program can develop the quantity of astronauts on the area station — which signifies that extra science, and even new forms of experiments, can occur in the distinctive microgravity setting.

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The area station can be getting used as a proving floor as NASA prepares to return people to the moon by 2024 by means of its Artemis program, in addition to a future human mission to Mars.

“We’re using the ISS right now for Mars preparation,” stated Michelle Rucker, lead for NASA’s Mars Architecture group, in September. “The long transit to Mars and back is not unlike being in microgravity on the ISS.”

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In addition to the isolation and publicity area station crews face, the area station has additionally supplied long-duration gear expertise when planning out ideas for what will probably be required for a Mars journey.

And if something, the area station has proven what occurs when international locations cooperate to discover and study in area.

“I think people maybe have not experienced or don’t remember what a technical and programmatic and possibly just diplomatic challenge the space station really was,” Shepherd stated in NASA’s “Houston, We Have a Podcast” on Friday. “We’ve had, what, 63 expeditions on there that have all been very successful. We have multiple ways to get to the station now.”

Going ahead, Shepherd believes {that a} journey to Mars or different places in the photo voltaic system would require giant autos that can require meeting in orbit, utilizing spacewalks and robotics. It can even require the work, expense and cooperation of a number of international locations.

“If you look at the International Space Station, it’s really a blueprint for how to do this.”

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