A space station refers to a spaceship which is able to support crew members, and its propose is to stay permanently in space serving as an artificial outpost in low orbit of the Earth. It is designed to remain in outer space for a long period, and other spaceships can land on a space station. A space station is different from other spacecraft which can be used by humans for space flight because they lack landing or propulsion systems. Other spacecraft transport cargo and people to a space station, and transport them back again. Currently, the International Space Station (ISS) is the functioning and operational space station found in the orbit of the Earth. The program is a collaborative effort between 5 agencies from diverse countries like NASA of the US, Roscosmos of Russia, ESA Europe, JAXA of Japan, and CSA of Canada. The intergovernmental agreements and treaties establish the ownership of the space station. It is located at a high altitude of about 250 miles, and it travels at a speed of 17,500 mph. At this speed, the space station can complete circling the Earth in about 92 minutes circling the Earth for 15.5 orbits in a single day.
Importance of a Space Station
The space station enables humans to have an ongoing and almost permanent presence in space. People have been able to live in space every day since the first group arrived in the space station and the laboratories in the space station allow crew members to research on what was not possible without the space station. Such research findings have numerous benefits to people around the world. The scientists can know the effects of microgravity or living for a long period in an environment with little gravity. NASA and other collaborating agencies have managed to keep the space station working, and the findings from the space station will benefit space exploration in the future. Scientists are currently working on plans to explore other planets, and the space station will provide very crucial information, and the lessons learned from the space station will prepare humans for other missions deep into space. According to original agreements between the different agencies, the ISS was to provide a base that would serve as factory, laboratory, and an observatory in space and it was intended to offer maintenance, transport, and to serve as a stage or a base for probable missions in future to the mars, moon, and other planets. In 2010, the ISS was given an additional role to serve as diplomatic, commercial, and educational functions.
The International Space Station (ISS) has provided a base to carry out research. Unlike the human-crewed spacecraft, space stations can provide long-term environments where research and studies could be carried out possibly for even decades, and having ready access by human researchers for the time that exceeds the capacity of a human-crewed spaceship. The space stations have simplified specific experiment by removing the requirement for a different research staff and rocket launches. The different scientific research is in the fields such as astronomy, astrobiology, space medicine, human research, and areas such as physical sciences, life sciences space weather, material science, and meteorology particularly on the weather on Earth. Medical research would improve knowledge on the human body on long-term exposure in space and the understanding of bone loss, muscle atrophy, and fluid shift. Such knowledge could be applied in determining whether lengthy flight in space and even living in space are feasible. According to information collected as of 2006, it was found that muscular atrophy and bone loss would result in significant risks of impaired movement and fractures, which are some of the problems the astronauts would face if they landed on another planet after a long period of travel. For instance, a cruise to the planet Mars may take up to six months.
Space station offers a place within the relative safety and reaches of the low orbit of the Earth for trials on spaceship systems required for long distance missions to other planets like the mars or the moon. Such experiments provide the right experience in maintenance, operations, replacement, and repair actions on an orbit which would be very critical in operating a spacecraft far away from the Earth. Risks associated with the space mission would be reduced while advancing the effectiveness of interplanetary spaceship. International Space Station is a collaboration of several countries, and there is so much value in working in partnership compared with partners working independently. Partners can develop complementary abilities and resources, which ensures the safety and success assurance of space exploration. It is also anticipated that any future mission to distant planets like Mars would most likely be a worldwide endeavor, and collaboration such as the Space Station provides the basis of such future success.
The international space exploration crew members give students opportunities to learn more about space exploration. They have developed educational demonstrations and experiments that allow students to participate in classrooms fashioned on ISS experiment and by engaging the students directly using radio, email, and video link. The ESA has a broad range of written materials which can be downloaded and used in classrooms. Among the lessons, the students could pilot a 3-D model covering the exterior and interior of the space station while facing spontaneous challenges, which require immediate solving in real-time. On the other hand, JAXA is aiming to encourage the inquisitiveness of school-going children by motivating and cultivating their passion and importance of knowledge of space exploration. The agency runs various educational guides that will enlighten and give a deeper perspective of the past, the present, and the future of spacecraft as well as life on Earth.
Visiting the Space Station
As of March 14th, 2019, there were 236 people who have visited the space station, and they were nationalities from 18 different countries, and some of them had visited several times. The US had so far sent 149 people, and Russia had sent 47 people while Japan had sent nine people.Canada also had sent eight people, Italy 5 people, France four people, Germany 3 people, while Denmark Belgium, Malaysia, Brazil, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Sweden, Spain, the UK, and South Africa had each send one person.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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