The ISS (International Space Station) is a habitable space station in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The first component was launched into orbit in 1998. Now, the ISS is the largest human-made body in LEO and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. The station is made up of pressurized modules, external trusses, solar arrays, and other parts. The ISS components have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and American Space Shuttles.
The ISS program is a collaborative project between five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. The space station is divided into two, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations.
But you probably already knew that....
Here are 5 interesting facts about the ISS that you can share with your friends and family.
1. You can actually sign-up to see when the ISS is flying over your head.
Taking into consideration that the space station orbits Earth (and sees a beautiful sunrise) once every 92 minutes!
If you'd like, go ahead and sign up at:
2. Russians have a gun in the ISS
Although it is not as alarming as it sounds, it's more of a safety feature. The TP-82 (triple barreled) gun is intended to be used against animals, in case the spacecraft comes down to Earth in the forest or other deserted areas. This happened during several flights (early on) in the Soviet space program, when landings were not as precise.
3. The ISS is the most expensive human-made object in history
The ISS costs around $160 Billion USD to make. In a rough estimate, the Great Pyramid (in Egypt) would cost around $878 million USD in today's money (that's building it with the current cost of the limestone and labor). We could rebuild 114 Great Pyramids for the cost of the ISS. Also, in today's crypto-currency era, the ISS would be worth about 9,568,000 Bitcoins.
4. The U.S control computers have 1.5 GB of total main hard drive storage!!
Compare that to modern PCs that can easily have 500 GB hard drives. Additionally, in the ISS’s U.S. segment, 1.5 million lines of flight software code run on 44 computers communicating via 100 data networks that transfer 400,000 signals (that include pressure readings, temperature measurements, valve positions, etc.).
5. NASA Confirms That 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Will Be Screened in the ISS
On December 15, 2017, audiences around the world will get to marvel at Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But astronauts aboard the International Space Station will get to watch the latest Star Wars flick literally in LEO!
Ultimately, NASA is on a limited budget, and maintaining the space station costs about $3.5 billion per year.
If NASA decides not to inhabit the ISS beyond 2024, the space station would experience a fiery death as it plunges through the Earth's atmosphere on a controlled trajectory, to splash down into the ocean.