The International Space Station is not the first habitable artificial satellite but it by far surpasses any attempts in the past to create a unified structure in space that can be used for a multitude of different purposes. It was such an immense project, when first introduced in 1988, that there was no way that one agency could fund the entire planning and construction. Because of this fact, three agencies merged, each adding their own piece to the final construction of the ISS. The United States, Canada, and Japan all created components which were then launched by United States and Russian rockets. It easily became the single most expensive item ever constructed. The entire station is made up of pressurized modules, external trusses, and solar panels. It is so immense, in fact, that it can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. The first set of crew to occupy the station arrived in 2000 by way of the Expedition 1 and has been continuously occupied ever since. Since then, 15 different nations have visited the station, which is achievable due to the establishment of intergovernmental treaties and agreements. Although it is used by many nations, the two main parties are Russia, which occupies the Russian Orbital Segment, and the United States, which occupies the United Stated Orbital Segment. Together, the two segments complete 15.5 orbits per day, staying on course with a system of jet propulsions. Luckily, the ISS has been funded through the year 2020, and could even last up until 2028. So why then, with all of the budget cuts (especially to the space program), have we invested so much into something that can only be used by a handful of astronauts? “The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research...
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...ghts of inventors and integrators of the research and technology on the ground, we can anticipate continued space station benefits for humanity.” (Dunbar). Even though funding for the space program has been dramatically reduced here in the United States, space programs all over the world are still using the ISS. It is securely funded through the year 2020 and could even be used and operated until 2028. Research papers are written monthly, concluding new finds that are credited to the research and exploration that takes place on the ISS. It has definitely been an incredible undertaking and is a remarkable piece of equipment that truly shows what us, as humans are capable of accomplishing. The legacy of the International Space Station continues, and there is no telling what we might be capable of discovering, through the use of the station, in the next few years.
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