The International Space Station and the Space

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Meir often uses Twitter to show off her photography skills with fascinating images taken from space. She made history last month alongside her colleague Christina Koch when they completed the first all female spacewalk. Meir and Koch's spacewalk was actually the st to be conducted from the ISS for maintenance purposes.

Building the International Space Station

Lots of the astronauts on the ISS post regularly on social media about what they're doing up there. Here's what you need to know about the International Space Station Nasa has released a puzzling image of a nearly perfect ring galaxy. And, Elon Musk's Starlink satellites have come under fire once again for 'interrupting' footage of a meteor shower.

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How to call the International Space Station

In one day, the station travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back. The space station can rival the brilliant planet Venus in brightness and appears as a bright moving light across the night sky.

It can be seen from Earth without the use of a telescope by night sky observers who know when and where to look. The ISS generally holds crews of between three and six people the full six-person size was possible after , when the station facilities could support it.

ISS Historical Timeline

But crew sizes have varied over the years. After the Columbia space shuttle disaster in that grounded flights for several years, crews were as small as two people due to the reduced capacity to launch people into space on the smaller Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

What is the International Space Station used for?

The space station has also housed as many as 13 people several times, but only for a few days during crew changeovers or space shuttle visits. The space shuttle fleet retired in , leaving Soyuz as the only current method to bring people to the ISS.


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Three astronauts fly to the space station in Soyuz spacecraft and spend about six months there at a time. Sometimes, mission lengths vary a little due to spacecraft scheduling or special events such as the one-year crew that stayed on the station between and If the crew needs to evacuate the station, they can return to Earth aboard two Russian Soyuz vehicles docked to the ISS.

International Space Station - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The Independent

When the U. Astronauts spend most of their time on the ISS performing experiments and maintenance, and at least two hours of every day are allocated to exercise and personal care. However, the first astronaut to tweet from space was Mike Massimino, who did it from a space shuttle in May The ISS is a platform for long-term research for human health, which NASA bills as a key stepping stone to letting humans explore other solar system destinations such as the moon or Mars. Human bodies change in microgravity , including alterations to muscles, bones, the cardiovascular system and the eyes; many scientific investigations are trying to characterize how severe the changes are and whether they can be reversed.

Eye problems in particular are vexing the agency, as their cause is unclear and astronauts are reporting permanent changes to vision after returning to Earth.


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  • Astronauts also participate in testing out commercial products — such as an espresso machine or 3D printers — or doing biological experiments, such as on rodents or plants , which the astronauts can grow and sometimes eat in space. Crews are not only responsible for science, but also for maintaining the station. Sometimes, this requires that they venture on spacewalks to perform repairs.

    From time to time, these repairs can be urgent — such as when a part of the ammonia system fails, which has happened a couple of times. Spacewalk safety procedures were changed after a potentially deadly incident when astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet filled with water while he was working outside the station.

    Itty bitty living space

    NASA now responds quickly to "water incursion" incidents. It also has added pads to the spacesuits to soak up the liquid, and a tube to provide an alternate breathing location should the helmet fill with water.

    HOW IT WORKS: The International Space Station

    NASA is also testing technology that could supplement or replace astronaut spacewalks. One example is Robonaut. A prototype currently on board the station is able to flip switches and do other routine tasks under supervision, and may be modified at some point to work "outside" as well. The ISS has had several notable milestones over the years, when it comes to crews:.