By Marc W. Polite
This November marks the 25th Anniversary of the International Space Station. The first segment of this station was set up on November 20, 1998. After roughly two years of construction, the ISS would have crewed members in the Fall of 2000. Stationed in low Earth orbit, the ISS construction involved space agencies of the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency(comprised of 22 nations in Europe)
The International Space Station is a symbol of international cooperation, and an example of what can be accomplished if the nations of the world could work together. Through the studies conducted on the ISS, scientists have learned more about how long term exposure to outer space will effect humanity. For example, the effects of low gravity on bone density comes from years of scientific research. This information is vital to understanding the risks associated with crewed missions to space.
Furthermore, research has led to discoveries about the viability of growing food in space. The Vegetable Production System is a portion of the ISS that has a functioning garden. Through experiments, crewed members have been able to grow lettuce, kale, and cabbage. If sustenance can grow off-world, then it provides an opportunity for humanity to have a sustainable food supply on potential, permanent outposts in the future.
Though it has been in orbit for 25 years, the ISS has a few years left before it is completely decommissioned. In 2031, the station is scheduled to be deliberately crashed into Point Nemo– a very remote spot in the Pacific ocean. This will be done so as a safety measure, and it will join other satellites and decommissioned space stations in what some refer to as a “space graveyard.”
With so much occurring in space news, this is a good time to recognize the ongoing developments. To read more about the International Space Station, see the additional articles below: