September 24, 2015

International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) was conceived as an outpost for performing microgravity science and observing Earth, and as a proving ground for future crewed spaceflight. Developed by NASA in partnership with ESA and the Russian, Canadian and Japanese space agencies, it is set to continue operating until 2020 and possibly beyond.

In 1998, the Russian Zarya module was placed into Earth orbit and became the first element of the International Space Station (ISS). Assembly of the station was completed 13 years later, in 2011. Today, the ISS has a habitable volume of approximately 400 m3 and has been permanently crewed since November 2000. The station’s main purpose is to perform microgravity science experiments. Two examples are Cardiomed, a medical experiment developed by CNES operating on the ISS since 2010 to gauge the effects of near-weightlessness on the cardiovascular system, and the DECLIC mini-laboratory also developed by CNES and launched to the ISS in 2009 to observe the behaviour of fluids in certain very precise conditions. As the ISS orbits Earth at an altitude of about 400 km, such experiments allow scientists to detect physical and physiological phenomena otherwise masked by gravity on the ground. In addition to its role performing experiments, the ISS also serves as a platform to observe Earth from space and as a proving ground for future human space exploration.

Launched and led by NASA, the ISS mission was developed and is being pursued in partnership with ESA, the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The ISS will continue operating until at least 2020.