A space station is a large spacecraft made by man that floats in the Earth’s space. It is also known as orbital stations as it circles the Earth. Small space stations can be sent to orbit fully assembled. However, the larger space stations are sent to space in modules and assembled there. They store supplies, energy, and environmental systems that can support human habitation. Scientists and astronauts who inhabit the space stations engage in activities such as scientific experiments, maintenance, spacewalks, social media updates, as well as exercise and personal care. Many space stations have been launched in space such as the Skylab, Mir, Salyut 1-7, Tiangong 1 & 2, Cosmos 557, Destiny and Quest among others. Some of these launches failed while others were a success. Presently, there are two space stations in space namely the Tiangong 2 and the International Space Station (ISS).
The Orbit Stations In Space
International Space Station (ISS)
The ISS was first launched in space by Russia on November 20, 1998, with the first humans successfully working in the station from the year 2000. Since then, there have been astronauts working continuously on the ISS. A maximum of six astronauts can survive in the space station for six months. It is currently operating and permanently inhabited. This space station was a result of the partnership between Roscosmos of Russia, NASA of the United States, the Canadian Space Agency, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the European Space Agency with the two main mission control centers being in Moscow and Houston. As of January 2018, 230 people had been sent to the ISS from 18 countries. Majority of these space astronauts and scientists were from the US (145) and Russia (46). Peggy Whitson set a record of working in the space station for 665 days.
The ISS weighs 391,000 kilograms. It flies at an average altitude of 400 kilometers above the earth and circles the globe every one hour at an average speed of 28,000 km/h. One can easily see the ISS from the earth without using a telescope. It resembles planet Venus in brightness during the day and appears as a bright light moving across the sky in the night.
Tiangong 2 Space Station of China
Tiangong 2 was launched in space on September 15, 2016, as a way of performing tests for the planned launch of a larger space shift known as Chinese Space Station in 2020. The space station is 10.4 meters long and 3.35 meters wide. Until June 2018, its orbital altitude was 383 kilometers. Afterward, it went down to 295 kilometers with no explanations and the space shift began experiencing a test flight delay. According to the China Manned Space Engineering Office, the country will be deorbiting the space station in July 2019.
Purpose Of The Space Stations
The space stations are significant to scientists and astronauts as they assist in performing an in-depth study of space including the observation of the sun and other space objects. There are also long term researches for human health ongoing as scientists explore possibilities of Mars or Moon supporting human existence. NASA also uses the space station to test technology that could supplement or replace astronaut spacewalks such as the robonaut. Space stations are also used for military reconnaissance.