10 interesting facts about the International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) has been in orbit for more than 20 years (since 1998). Below are some interesting facts about the station, many of which you’ve probably never heard of.


For some reason, many Russians think that the ISS is a Russian project, although even by name you can guess that it is not. 14 countries took part in the construction of the ISS. The management is carried out with the help of four Flight Control Centers (in Russia, the United States, Germany and Japan) that constantly exchange information.


The ISS is the most expensive object in the history of mankind. The cost of the station is about 160 billion dollars, although the exact calculation is difficult. The U.S. (about 75%).


The station makes 15.5 revolutions around the Earth per day at an altitude of 400 km (so dawns and sunsets can be observed every 45 minutes). The orbital speed is 7.6 km/s. At the same time, the weight of the ISS is more than 417 tons, its length – 109 meters, and the total power of solar panels – 110 kW.


Construction of the station began with the launch in 1998 of the Proton-K launch vehicle with the cargo unit “Dawn”, which was manufactured in Russia under a contract with Boeing Corporation. Today, the block belongs to the Russian segment, although it belongs to NASA, as its construction is fully funded by the United States.

In total, the ISS has 15 modules: 5 Russian, 7 American, 1 European, 1 dual Japanese and American experimental residential module BEAM, which is being tested.

Надувной модуль BEAM
BEAM inflatable module


The thickness of the WALLS of the ISS is only about 3 mm (can vary on different modules). This is due to the difficulty of lifting cargo with a large mass into space. Options are being considered to make the next generation of orbital stations inflatable – this is the experimental module BEAM. Inflatable modules have a great perspective, especially in light of future buildings on the Moon and Mars.


In orbit, a large number of Space debris. Microparticles are used to protect against microparticles anti-meteorite screens. Large particles (from 4 cm) are tracked, and in case of potential danger, the ISS makes a reversal of evasion by moving to another orbit.

If the danger is late, the crew takes up space in the spacecraft to evacuate in the event of an accident. Such events took place four times: in 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012, though it did not come to evacuation.

To reduce the consequences in a “frontal” collision with micrometeorites and debris in front of the station docked cargo, uninhabited module.


The ISS is the third brightest object in the night sky, and it can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. If you register on the NASA website by specifying your mobile phone number, it will receive messages every time the ISS flies over you.


In 2001, the well-known company Pizza Hut organized the delivery of pizza to the largest distance in the world – to the ISS. Pizza delivery cost a million dollars, which Roscosmos received, and pizza was gladly eaten by the crew, who worked in orbit at the time. Well, for Pizza Hut this was, of course, an advertising campaign.


The time of space tubes has long passed – all cosmonauts and astronauts eat regular food, only prepackaged in small portions – in order to eat at once, as there is nowhere to store open packages, and you can not throw away because of the smell.

Usually dinner with the whole ISS team, located in the American sector – it is much more spacious. The small dimensions of the Russian modules are connected with the fact that they are transported by rail, which imposes a limit on the size. Americans carry their designs by planes.


Experts say that almost all the scientific value from the use of orbital stations has long been exhausted, and, by and large, there is simply nothing to explore in orbit now.

The huge financial investment required to maintain the ISS will not pay off even in the very distant future, and the much more profitable way is to explore space with the help of automatic stations and robots.

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