Space Station (ISS)
International Space Station (ISS) is a man-made satellite which was launched
into the low earth orbit in 1998. This space station is suitable for living where
a crew of 6 members can live and can be used until 2028. The low earth orbit,
having an orbit of nearly 711km, has an orbital period from 84 to 127 minutes. The
International Space Station has an orbital speed of 7.67 km per second. Hence,
its orbital period is 711/7.67 ~ 92.65 minutes. So, this makes (24*60)/92.65 =
15.54 orbits per day. With a length of 72.8m and a width of 108.5m, the ISS
weighs more than 4 lakh kgs making it the largest artificial body revolving in
the low earth orbit such a person standing on the earth’s surface can see it
directly with his naked eye. Many countries like the United States, Russia,
Japan and some European countries were a part of its construction. The
International Space Station is as big as a football ground, having a volume of
nearly a 5 bedroom house.
The International Space Station (ISS) was the idea of the
United States but later constructed and developed by many other countries forming
their own space agencies. It had its roots in the 1940s when astronauts realized
that the construction of such a huge space station and living in micro gravity
are possible. In the year 1984, the then President of USA, Ronald Reagan
instructed the NASA officials to build the ISS. As the construction was huge,
they designed the parts of the space station and decided to assemble them in
the space itself.
The first segment of the International
Space Station, named Zarya (also known as Functional Cargo Block) was launched
on November 20, 1998 on a Russian proton rocket in Kazakhstan. Being built in
Moscow, it took 4 years i.e. from December 1994 to January 1998, for them to
build the module. The main aim of Zarya
was to provide the space station with electrical power, propulsion, communications,
guidance and storage to the ISS.
Within 15 days, on December 4, 1998, the
first U.S built component, Unity, was launched. This component is completely
dedicated for the assembly of the station. Having a cylindrical shape, this
module provided the ISS with many resources like fluids, environmental control
and life support systems as well as data systems.
On 12th July, 2000, another
module which made the station usable for scientists to live was launched and
docked with the International Space Station. It made the station habitable for
a 6 member crew. It also provides controls, navigation and guidance. It is
known as Zevada or Service Module (SM) or DOS-8.
On 2nd November, 2000, three
scientists resided in the space station for many months. These are the first to
reside in ISS.
On 7th February, 2001, the
United States launched its own module named Destiny or the U.S. Lab which
serves as the primary research center for U.S. payloads.
On 15th July, 2001, another pressurized
module named Quest airlock was launched hich stores the crew lock, spacesuits
On 14th September, 2001,
Russian airlock docking module named Pirs or Mini-Research Module was launched
whose main purpose was to store and service as well as to provide connection
between ISS and the already existing but inhabitant mir station.
With unity as Node 1, the United States
on 23rd October, 2007 (7 years after Node-1) launched its Node-2
i.e, the Harmony module. It serves as the utility hub for the United States
space agency. It acts as a central connecting point providing connection to
other components and bus electronic data.
Node 3 or Tranquility was launched by
the United States on 8th February, 2008 to support life and recycle
waste water. With the advancement in technology, this is used for the
production of oxygen.
On the same day of Tranquility launch
i.e. 8th February, 2008, European Space Agency joined the space
station and launched its first ever European module and European primary
research center. Also, it is the first ever module to conduct research experiments
in the fields of biology and fluid physics. The module is named as Columbus.
With Europe coming aboard, Japan Space
agency also joins the International Space Station. On 11th March,
2008, Japan launched its first ever named Kibo. It is also the largest ISS
module. It is also used for observations in medicine, biology, communications
On 12th November, 2009, 8years
after launching the Pir module, Russian airlock docking module named Poisk or
Mini-Research Module – 2 was launched whose main purpose was to store and
service as well as to provide connection between ISS and the already existing
but inhabitant mir station.
On 8th February, 2010, the
European Space Agency (ESA) launched its second module Cupola and attached with
Tranquility. Having 7 windows, Cupola is used for docking and observations of
On 14th May, 2010, Russia
launched its module Rassvet or the Mini – Research Module 1 which is used for
the purpose of cargo storage as well as docking.
On 24th February, 2011,
European Space Agency launched another pressurized module named Leonardo or the
Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) which is being attached with Tranquility
and used for storage of spares, supplies as well as waste.
On 10th April, 2016, Bigelow
Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an experimental module, was docked with the
International Space Station to act as a docking station and commercial space
On 18th July, 2016,
International Docking Adapter (IDA) was launched.
The components are scheduled to launch
in 2018 and 2019 as well with some of them having postponed dates.
ISS serves as an orbiting laboratory for the scientists as well as NASA to live
there and for research purposes. The space station is constructed in the space
itself by arranging the parts. It is being used as a space environment research
laboratory to perform experiments in almost all the fields of science ranging
from human biology, astrology and meteorology and even many other fields. The
scientists use it as a home/laboratory to study about habitable environment in
space and working there.
main purpose of the International Space Station is to conduct experiments about
exploring other worlds and travelling there. It is the first step, by the space
agencies of United States and Russia, in travelling to other places and for
future operations like Moon, Mars as well as asteroids. The International Space
Station acts as a stage/base for the scientists to conduct experiments in space
which they cannot do on the surface of the earth. This helps them to research
on the benefits of the people for helping their day-to-day life. The results of
the research are called “spinoffs”. It is also helpful for them to study
about the concept of micro gravity and its effect on human beings when they
live there for a longer duration. Apart from this, the ISS also serves as an
observational platform for astronomical, geographical and environmental study.
It also aids for educational, diplomatic and commercial services.
The astronauts found that ISS is helpful and suitable for a
habitable life due to microgravity. The International Space Station is situated
in the low earth orbit at an altitude of around 330 and 435 km from the surface
which makes the earth’s gravity weaker and makes the bodies in this orbit feel
weightless. The ISS helped the scientists to explore more about fluids, waste
management, water recycling, cosmic dust and dark matter in the space.
ISS’s assembly, as discussed earlier, started in 1998 with
Zarya and continued till the additions of other modules by European Space
Agency and Russian Space Agency. Each module added has its own purposes which
might be for the benefits of a country or might be for researching in a
particular field which are useful in the day-to-day lives of human beings. The
Unity module was specially designed and dedicated for the assembly itself. All
the modules were sent from different places using the space shuttles named STS.
Till now, a total of 134 STSs were launched.
Life on ISS:
As mentioned earlier, the ISS can have a crew of 6 members
onboard. Every day, they involve in a mission control meeting followed by an
inspection. The crew works same as on the earth. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
is used as the standard time for reference. As the ISS completes 15.54 orbits
per day, the crew will have nearly 15-16 sunrises and sunsets Zvezda and
Harmony modules provide berthing for the crew. All kinds of facilities are
available for the crew. Taking care of oxygen and carbon dioxide is a must and
also the crew can sleep freely floating which is avoided due to the equipment
in the space station. All astronauts mus t do a minimum of 2 hours exercise in
the space station. Food which can be preserved for higher number of days and of
low weight is carried. Waste management and water management systems are
present in Zvezda and Tranquility.
Facts of ISS:
Starting in the year, ISS had 54
expeditions; 55th is already planned.
It is inhabited by 200+ astronauts and
scientists, with a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 in each expedition.
Till now, 134 STSs were launched. Out of
them, 133 were successfully launched.
The ISS is the single item with a high
It weighs 93,000 pounds and has 32000+
cubic feet of pressurized volume.
It is in orbit for more than 19 years
and is habited for more than 17 years.
The Waste Water treatment alone makes the
crew of ISS less dependent on water by nearly about 34%.
It orbits the earth every 90 minutes. It
sees 16 sunrises and sunsets per day.
It has 8 miles of electrical power
The ISS has an area equal to that of a
It is the largest human-made satellite;
can be seen directly from earth.
52 computers are being used to control the
Oxygen is generated using the process of
The space station Mir became a legend in its own time
reflecting Russia’s past space glories and her future as a leader in space. The
Russian Space Station Mir endured 15 years in orbit, three times its planned
lifetime. It outlasted the Soviet Union that launched it into space. It hosted
scores of crewmembers and international visitors. It raised the first crop of
wheat to be grown from seed to seed in outer space. It was the scene of joyous
reunions, feats of courage, moments of panic, and months of grim determination.
It suffered dangerous fires, a nearly catastrophic collision, and darkened
periods of out-of-control tumbling.
Mir soared as a symbol of
Russia’s past space glories and her potential future as a leader in space. And
it served as the stage—history’s highest stage—for the first large-scale,
technical partnership between Russia and the United States after a half-century
of mutual antagonism. Mir did all of that and like most legends was
controversial and paradoxical. At different times and by different people, Mir
was called both “venerable” and “derelict.” It was also
“robust,” “accident-prone,” and “a marvel,” as
well as “a lemon.”
After more than 86,000 total orbits, Mir
re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Friday, March 23, 2001, at 9 a.m. Moscow time.
The 134-ton space structure broke up over the southern Pacific Ocean. Some of
its larger pieces blazed harmlessly into the sea, about 1,800 miles east of New
Zealand. Observers in Fiji reported spectacular gold- and white-streaming
lights. An amazing saga and a highly successful program finally had come to a
After the Russian space station
moved into its second decade, the Mir became notorious as an accident-prone
spacecraft, even as it remained unparalleled in continuous service. A 15-minute
fire in an oxygen-generating device imperilled the station in February 1997.
Failures of the Electron electrolysis oxygen-generating units and problems with
attitude and environmental controls often seemed to alternate with computer
malfunctions and power outages. The June 1997 collision with the Progress
supply vehicle breached the integrity of the Spektr’s hull and rendered that
module uninhabitable. But, Mir remained; and its space explorers endured. Over
its lifetime, the space station hosted 125 cosmonauts and astronauts from 12
different nations. It supported 17 space expeditions, including 28 long-term
crews. Its residents arrived via the 31 spacecraft that docked with Mir; nine
of the dockings involved the Space Shuttle. Additionally, 64 uncrewed cargo
vessels ferried supplies and equipment periodically to Mir. And, it served as a
floating laboratory for 23,000 scientific and medical experiments.
Although Mir was gone by early
2001 and the International Space Station (ISS) was growing rapidly in orbit,
the U.S. and Russia were still using spacecraft as statecraft. On March 23—the
same day as Mir’s deorbit—Russia expelled four U.S. diplomats and said it would
expel 46 more, in retaliation for the American expulsion of 50 Russian
diplomats for espionage-like activities. It wasn’t the Cold War, all over
again, but international tensions were certainly continuing, and the need
remained for a worthy program for U.S. and Russian cooperation.
Mir Base Block
The Mir Base Block (core module) evolved from the
earlier Soviet Salyut to serve as the heart of the space station. Launched in
February 1986, the 13.1-meter-long, 20.4-metric ton core contained the primary
living and working area, and life support and power, as well as the main
computer, communications, and control equipment—all in 90 cubic meters of
habitable volume. Mir’s environment was generally maintained at temperatures of
64°F to 82°F and humidity of 20 to 70 percent. The core had four main
The Working Compartment was
actually two cylinders connected by a conical section. It provided operations
and living areas. Operations included monitoring, command, and scientific
activities. The living area provided the necessities for long-duration
missions, including a galley with a table, cooking elements, trash storage; a
bicycle exerciser and treadmill with medical monitoring equipment; video
equipment; and individual crew areas, each with a porthole, hinged chair, and
sleeping bag. The personal hygiene area, with toilet and sink, was located in
one end of the working compartment. Mir had several portholes, with shutters
outside to protect them from orbital debris impacts. Two television screens
permitted face-to-face communications with the ground. Four more television
screens monitored the other Mir modules.
The Transfer Compartment was a
spherical structure at the front end of Mir, providing one end-docking port for
visiting spacecraft, plus four radial berthing ports, set in a 90-degree
arrangement, for access to the station’s added modules. An approaching module
used the Kurs (course) automatic docking system to dock with the forward port.
Crews could then use the module’s manipulator arm system to move it to a radial
port, thus freeing the forward port for future use. The Transfer Compartment
had no simulated “up and down” indicators; it was an area of Mir
where astronauts reported sensations of disorientation.
The non-pressurized Assembly
Compartment, on the other end of the Base Block, contained the station’s main
engine and fuel tanks; it supported antennas, lights, and optical sensors. The
pressurized Intermediate Compartment tunnelled through the Assembly Compartment
to connect the Working Compartment to the aft docking port, where the Kvant-1
module was permanently docked.
Kvant means “quantum.” When Kvant-1 was
docked permanently to Mir’s aft docking port in April 1987, it increased Mir’s
usable volume and expanded its scientific capabilities. Kvant-1 supported
research in the physics of galaxies, quasars, and neutron stars by measuring
electromagnetic emissions. The module also supported biotechnology experiments
and had some station control and life support functions. The 11-metric ton
Kvant-1 measured 4.4 meters by 6.3 meters long, with 40 cubic meters of
pressurized volume. The module was equipped with six gyro dynes that provided
accurate pointing of the station and significantly reduced the amount of fuel
used for attitude control. Its aft docking port was available for Soyuz and
Kvant-2 was a scientific and
airlock module, providing biological research, Earth observations, and
extravehicular activity capabilities.
The Kvant-2 enhanced Mir with drinking
water and oxygen provisions, motion control systems, and power distribution, as
well as shower and washing facilities. Its airlock contained a self-sustained
cosmonaut manoeuvring unit that increased the range and complexity of
extravehicular activity tasks. The 19.6-metric ton Kvant-2 measured 4.4 meters
by 13.7 meters long with 61.3 cubic meters of volume and 27.4 meters of solar
arrays. It was the first module equipped with the Lyappa manipulator arm, used
to move the modules after they docked with Mir. The Kvant-2 docked with Mir in
Kristall means “crystal.” This module
supported biological and materials production technologies in the microgravity
environment. These included semiconductors, cellular substances, and medicines.
Kristall also supported astrophysical and technical experiments. It had a
radial docking port, originally designed as a means of docking the Russian
Shuttle-type orbiter Buran, and was used for the first STS-71 docking in 1995.
Added in June 1990, the 19.6-metric ton Kristall measured 4.4 meters by 13
meters long, with 60.8 cubic meters of volume and 36-meters of solar arrays.
Spektr means “spectrum,” and this
module allowed for better investigations and monitoring of Earth’s natural
resources and atmosphere. Spektr also supported research into biotechnology,
life sciences, materials science, and space technologies. American astronauts
sometimes used Spektr as their living quarters. Launched in May 1995 during
Norm Taggard’s mission to Mir, Spektr carried more than 1,600 pounds of U.S.
equipment, mainly for biomedical research. Included with its arrival were two
pairs of solar arrays to boost power to the station and a Lyappa manipulator
arm to assist in moving the modules on Mir. The 19.3-metric ton Spektr module
measured 14.4 meters by 4.4 meters, with a pressurized volume of 62 cubic
meters, and had four solar arrays. On June 25, 1997, an uncrewed Progress
resupply vehicle collided with the Spektr module, causing solar array and hull
damage, and depressurization. The Mir crew closed the hatch to the leaking
Spektr, preventing further pressure loss on board Mir.
Priroda means “nature,” and this
module’s main purpose was Earth remote-sensing including the weather; the
ocean-atmosphere system; land, mineral, and crop conditions; and humankind’s
impacts and opportunities in the environment. Priroda also collected information
from remote-sensor buoys in nuclear power, seismic activity, and other areas to
create an integrated monitoring and warning system. Launched in April 1996,
Priroda, the last of the Mir modules arrived during Shannon Lucid’s stay on
Mir. The 19.7-metric ton Priroda measured 4.4 meters by 12 meters long and had
a pressurized volume of 66 cubic meters.
The Russian-built Docking
Module was delivered by STS-74 on November 14, 1995. Attached to the Kristall,
the Docking Module (DM) provided clearance for the Shuttle to dock easily with
Mir without interference from the station’s solar panels. The DM featured a
pressure-sealed body and an androgynous peripheral docking system (APDS),
compatible with the Kristall and Shuttle Orbiter docking systems (ODS).
The Shuttle ODS, an external airlock extension, was fitted to the forward
payload bay bulkhead and was accessible by the crew via the mid-deck airlock.
When docked, the APDS provided locking, structural stiffness, and an airtight
seal between the two structures.
The DM was 4.7 meters long from
tip to tip of the identical APDSs on either end; its diameter was 2.2 meters;
and weighed approximately 4.1 metric tons. The module carried to the Mir two
solar arrays: one Russian and one jointly developed by the U.S. and Russia to
augment Mir’s power supply. The DM carried the arrays retracted and stowed to
be later deployed by cosmonauts.
Facts of Mir:
Mir’s construction involved 280 soviet state
It was the first major international space
station and also the first of its kind to have a friendly relation within
It had 23000+ scientific experiments.
Launched in 1986, it consisted of only a
base block. Laboratories, docking modules and living spaces were added later.
ISS used the first modular design for an
orbit by Mir.
It conducted the first study on long-term
weightlessness effects on human body.
It was designed for 5 years, but it
operated for 15 years.
It was the largest at that time and the
only station to perform experiments and conduct researches, mainly on
Right from its launch, it had 28
It was inhabited by 76 astronauts and
scientists, with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 in each expedition.