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  • 25 November, 2023

  • 3 Min Read

25 years of the International Space Station (ISS)

International Space Station (ISS), a place of peaceful collaboration for science, has completed more than 140,000 Earth orbits in its journey of 25 years.

  • ISS is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space.
  • Origin – Mainly a creation of USA and later Russia was invited to participate.
  • Operated by – 5 agencies
    • Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
    • The European Space Agency (ESA)
    • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
    • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    • The State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”
  • Size – Measures 109 meters (357 feet) end-to-end.
  • Location – At Low Earth Orbit (430 kilometers)

Among the 1st “live-in” astronauts were Bill Shepherd of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev.

  • Components – It consists of
    • Zarya Control Module – Russia based component that was launched in 1998 for supplying fuel storage, battery power, and serving as a docking zone for other vehicles
    • Unity Node 1 module – US based component
  • It passes over our heads 16 times every 24 hours (orbiting Earth every 90 minutes at a speed of 8 kilometers per second.
  • Achievements - Its discoveries have benefitted drug development, new water purification systems, methods to mitigate muscle and bone atrophy and lead to innovations in food production.
  • Future of ISS - NASA, CSA, and the ESA have committed to operate till 2030, while Russia has said that it will withdraw after 2024 to focus on building its own space station around 2028.

NASA plans to spend up to $1 billion to build the US Deorbit Vehicle (USDV) to deorbit ISS.

Tiangong Space Station

China launched three astronauts to its Tiangong space station which is China’s first in-orbit crew rotation.

  • The 3 astronauts were carried by the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft will live and work on the Tiangong space station for 6 months.
  • Shenzhou-15 (Divine Vessel) mission was the last of 11 missions needed to assemble the ‘Celestial Palace’.
  • Tiangong is China’s permanent space station that will operate in low-Earth orbit at an altitude from 340 km to 450 km.
  • Tiangong Space Station is named after the Chinese word for ‘heavenly palace’ or ‘celestial palace’.
  • The station has a designed lifespan of at least 10 years.
  • The Chinese space station has 3 modules
    1. Tianhe core module (heavenly river)
    2. Crew module and the laboratory cabin modules Wentian (quest for heavens) and
    3. Mengtian (dreaming of heaven).
  • Tiangong weighs about 66 tons with all 3 modules.
  • China has planned a Xuntian space telescope which will co-orbit with Tiangong, with a slightly different orbital phase.

China will have the only spaces station in orbit after ISS expires in 2024.


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