ISS Turned 20 This Week, 241 People Went Up There Since Expedition 1

International Space Station 11 photos
Photo: NASA
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Back in 1998, the first component of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched in orbit. Two years later, on November 2, 2000, three men stepped inside the orbital laboratory, kicking off the two-decade history of humanity’s most important and ambitious space project.
ISS is not the first space station to be crewed (we’ve had in the past the Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir, and the American Skylab), but it certainly is the most successful. Since that inaugural Expedition 1 20 years ago, the station has been in continuous operation with no major issues and incidents.

There were three people who climbed onboard the station in 2000 to turn on the lights for the first time. They are NASA astronaut William Shepherd, and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. They spent 136 days on ISS, but that was only the beginning.

Since then, the laboratory was home to 241 people from 19 countries. 227 spacewalks were performed, and there seems to be no stopping the station from continuing its mission, despite a close call (budget-wise) not long ago.

The space station is 357 feet end-to-end, comprising the modules, the integrated truss structure, and the solar panels. It is capable of receiving six spaceships at once (several presently serve the station, namely Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, SpaceX’s Dragon and Crew Dragon, JAXA’s HTV, and the Russian Progress), and comprises a host of modules used for various purposes, from housing to experiments.

In all, more than 20 different research payloads can be housed by the station at once, including Earth sensing equipment, materials science payloads, or particle physics experiments.

Several research facilities are in place aboard the ISS to support microgravity science investigations, including in biology, biotechnology, human physiology, material science, physical sciences, and technology development. Some 2,400 research investigations from researchers in more than 103 countries have been conducted on the station since it became operational.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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