On this day 22 years ago, three astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) to begin what turned out to be a continuous human presence in orbit.
On November 2, 2000, Exp 1 crewmates Bill Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, the station’s first resident crew members, arrived at their new home in space to begin a four-month stay aboard the orbiting outpost. 🧳🛰️ https://t.co/XUS3gB5JYr pic.twitter.com/isuP4nwjS7
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) November 2, 2022
The day before a Russian Soyuz rocket of Bill Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko was launched into orbit on October 31, a NASA press release stated that October 30, 2000 would be “the last day on which there would be no ‘human beings in space’. ”
And indeed, since then, there has been a continued presence of international astronauts on the facility as it orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth.
While years of planning went into the ambitious project to build a space facility for human habitation, work began in earnest on November 20, 1998, with the launch of a temporary Russian-made control module. called Zarya.
Shortly thereafter, on December 4, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavor launched Unity Node 1, the first American component of the ISS, into orbit.
Endeavor encountered Zarya and, using the shuttle’s robotic arm, captured the Russian module and connected it to Unity.
It was the first of many similar docking maneuvers that gradually built the ISS into a much larger facility that now measures 356 feet (109 meters) end to end – one meter shorter than the length of a piece of land. American football, including end zones.
NASA describes this marvel of modern engineering as “larger than a six-bedroom house”, offering plenty of room for what is typically a crew of around half a dozen astronauts.
Each group of visiting astronauts spends about six months living and working on board the satellite, conducting scientific experiments in microgravity conditions, the results of which can benefit mankind; perform station maintenance via spacewalks; training to stay in shape; conduct Earth studies from the facility’s seven-window cupola module; and enjoy downtime with teammates.
Despite the successes, challenges in maintaining the aging station mean it will eventually be decommissioned, likely in 2031. By then, however, a new international station should be in orbit, providing a human presence in space for a long time to come. .
A few years ago, to mark 20 years of the station, Digital Trends shared a collection of videos showing how astronauts live and work aboard the ISS.