It is hard to look at the International Space Station (ISS) and not imagine a future where living in space or at a planet is within our reach. Since astronauts made ISS their residence on November 2, 2000, it has orbited the earth over 100,000 times. The goal may have been initially to carry out laboratory experiments impossible to do on earth but the purpose has grown exponentially. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hopes the station will be the base for future missions to Mars and the moon. Some of the advances made in space are trickling down to earth benefiting people in need. Using resources to convert waste water into drinking water is something NASA is collaboratively working with world aid organizations. As well as studying monitoring natural disaster areas, preventing bone loss, and fighting osteoporosis are just some of the ways the space station benefits earth. Take a closer look at the space station in the last 16 years.The first module was launched in 1998. The station works as a space laboratory where crew members conduct experiments in fields such as biology, physics, meteorology, and astronomy. Five space agencies with crews from 15 countries assembled the station.
Expedition 1 arrived on the International Space Station on November 2, 2000. Commander William Shepherd and his crew members, Sergei Krikalev, and Yuri Gidzenko, hold hands for the camera.
American Commander Frank Culberton and his Russian crew mates saw the images of earth on that fateful day while they were on the Expedition 3. Culbertson is the only American who was not on the planet that day. The station is often used during disasters to aid and provide information to emergency agencies.
Kibo is the name of the arm used to put together the different modules in space. It was launched on June 3, 2008. Kibo means hope in Japanese and it’s the largest module on the space station.
One astronaut represented an agency from NASA, CSA, ESA, JAXA, and Russia. It was the only time all six agencies were in the station at the same time.
During the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, astronauts Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov took the torch out for a spacewalk on November 9, 2013.
Astronaut Reid Weisman captures a floating sphere of fire on July 18, 2014. Flex-2 experiment serves to improve engines on earth.
Astronauts admit auroras are their favourite things to see from the space station. Auroras or polar lights are the result of solar winds forming energized particles.
It takes the space station 90 minutes to rotate the earth, therefore, astronauts experience 16 sunrises everyday.
Liquids like water float in spherical form in microgravity. Once they come into contact with other objects though, the surface tension determines its shape.
Currently, there have been 195 spacewalks usually performed to maintain and build the station. Here, astronauts Terry Virts and Barry “Butch” Wilmore take the first GoPro footage on February 25, 2015.
Astronaut Kate Rubins successfully sequenced DNA in microgravity. Scientists’ goal in the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment is to diagnose an illness, identify, and determine microbes that may result in health risks.
While the station travels during the night side of the Milky Way, astronauts get to enjoy a stunning light show.
Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Kimiya Yui, are the first astronauts to enjoy the first space grown lettuce on August 10, 2015.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module was expanded on May 28, 2016. The habitats take less room in a spacecraft with the option to expand for living and working space.