1 Jul 2019

International Space Station: First step towards space colonization|

All about International Space Station!


International space station

By early 1980s, Europe was on high due to the success of spacelab laboratory and Ariane launch rocket and now they were debating on idea of permanent manned space station which was came during the spacelab laboratory mission.
During the same time space planners of USA have the same thought, but that time they were concentrated more on developing space shuttles instead of space station.

But, the Soviet Union was  working on this idea, and on 19 April 1971, Salyut 1 was launched in orbit and was a critical step towards making permanent place for human in space. Year 1977, see the launch of second generation space station in the shape of Salyut 2.

And, Frenchman Jean-Loup Chrétien became first western astronaut to spend time in space after the launch of Salyut 3 in 1982, as he spent two months in space.

On 20 February 1986, Soviet Union established third generation space station “MIR” (multi-modular space laboratory)  300 Kms above in the Earth’s orbit. Mir was designed to last for 12 years, it gave western scientists opportunity for long -term researchers, later in March 2001 it was crash landed in Pacific ocean successfully.

During 1980s, NASA was searching for ways to keep astronauts in space for a long period of time. Along with it, they were also looking for  scientific experimental setups and commercial applications.

In 1983, USA along with Europe, Japan and Canada came together around a table for discussing about the possibility of join space station. And on 25 January 1994, NASA was tasked for developing permanently manned space station to be used for scientific and industrial research and for the manufacture of metals and medicines.

Later, counties like France, Germany and Italy joined this space programme  with their advanced technologies. France helped mainly with launch vehicle and Germany and Italy with their complex technical supports. As its launch was scheduled for 1992, but due to delay it was launched on 20 November 1998.

Main reason of this delay was the annual budget negotiation in in US Congress and other problem was the different vision of nature of Space Station.

Like, whether it should be a research laboratory or an future orbital interchange for the future manned exploration missions. After that all the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 set the programme several years back.

In 1993 NASA has invited Russia to join this space mission. After the  approval of other partner countries in 1994 Russia finally joined the program. The benefit of joining Russia was very beneficial, as Russia had very much experience of the space missions and had many well classified and experienced engineer.

Now they have an extra partner which helped them in budget distribution and also they get help by Russia by training their astronaut in Russian Space Station Mir.

Finally on 20 November 1998, International Space Station was launched and get stabilized in the earth’s Orbit at the hight of 400 kilometre.

International Space Station was ninth Space Station to be inhabited, followed by Soviet Union's Salyut, Almaz, Mir as well as Skylab by US.

Space Station has been visited by astronauts, cosmonauts and space visitors of 18 countries. We will talk about it later in detail.

International Space Station completes its revolution in 92 minutes with the speed of 7.66 km/s (17,100 mph) as 15.5 revolution per day.

The original purpose of International Space station was to be  laboratory, observatory, and factory while providing maintenance, transportation and to be used as low Earth orbital base for future missions to be on Mars, Moon and asteroids.

Later in 2010, due to the change in United State space policy, International Space Station had given additional role for the commercial, diplomatic and educational purposes.

International Space Station provides platform for scientific research with powder, data, cooling and crew available for conducting experiments, it also provides platform for small on uncrewed spacecrafts for experiment.

ISS is used for conducting experiments in a wide variety  of fields including astrobiology, astronomy, physical sciences, materials science, space weather, meteorology, and human research including space medicine and the life sciences.

One of the most notable experiment of ISS  is Alpha magnetic spectrometer (AMS) which is for detecting dark matter and to find out other fundamental questions about universe. In April  2013 scientists have reported that AMS may have detected the hint dark matter. And according to NASA it is as important as Hubble Space Telescope.

Medical researches conducted in International Space Station had improved the knowledge about long term exposure of human body in space including bone loss, muscle atrophy and fluid shift. Data of 2006 suggest that astronauts should have suffer bone fracture and movement problems after long time  space exposure and it takes 6 months to reach to Mars.

For the educational purpose ISS provides opportunity  for student of Earth by running student developed experiments and keep providing educational materials and information in the form of audio, video or links and also helps in more different ways.

If we talk about the systems used in the International Space stations, so it provides earth like atmosphere and air pressure and also has the same air composition that of the Earth. Fully oxygen system is not given due to the high fire risk, which was the cause of Apollo 1 crew death.

ISS uses radio signal for communication between system and mission control centre. Radio signals has been also used for  rendezvous and docking process for audio and video communication with crew members, controllers and family members.

International Space Station is the most expensive single item ever constructed as it costs $150 billion as per 2010. Each person day cost it is about 7.5 million which is still half of the per day person cost of the Skylab which costs $19.6 million.

Crew members of ISS still are not so safe because they have to face radiation and the Space Station is just personal protective from radiation. And in the case of solar wind and solar flares they got warning just for a minute but Space Station has a special chamber which is first design for such type of hazards.

In 2019, when two astronauts who have spent more than a year in space got tested the doctor were shocked because they found some long lasting changes including DNA alternation and cognition when one of the astronaut was compared with his twin.

They have to also face psychological stress, muscle atrophy, weakness of bone, loss of body muscles, microbiological environmental hazards, and for overcoming their effect they have to also concentrate more on their health and have to keep exercising.

The most interesting fact about International Space Station is that it is visible easily from our naked eyes as a white moving dot in the sky which occurs due to the reflection of the sunlight and that makes it the brightest artificial object artificial object.

It is visible easily during the sunset and sunrise as it takes 10 minutes to cross a horizon. In 2012, NASA started service “spot the station” through which NASA sends a alert message when the station is going to pass through their City.

Although the space station is visible from 95% of inhabited lands but not visible from extreme South and extreme North portion of the globe.

In March 2019 for the first time 236 people from 18 countries have visited the Space Station and NASA is planning to open the Space Station for visitors.

The United States sent 149 people, Russia sent 47, nine were Japanese, eight were Canadian, five were Italian, four were French, three were German, and there were one each from Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


The mission of International space station is extend upto 2030, while India is planning for its own Space station that will initiate after launching Chandrayan 2 on moon by India.



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