The International Space Station, the largest international scientific and technological endeavor ever undertaken, is taking shape in factories and laboratories of 13 nations around the world. With the Space Station, a permanent laboratory will be established in a realm where gravity, temperature and pressure can be manipulated in a variety of scientific and engineering pursuits which are impossible in ground-based laboratories. The Space Station will be a testbed for the technologies of the future and a laboratory for research on new, advanced industrial materials, communications technology, and medical research.
The Space Station will provide scientists the electric power and time on orbit to perform research on such things as the growth of protein crystals, which aid in determining the structure and function of proteins. Such information will greatly enhance drug design and research in treatment of diseases. Crystals already grown on the Space Shuttle are superior to anything grown on Earth for research into cancer, diabetes, emphysema, parasitic infections and immune system disorders.
The almost complete absence of gravity on the Space Station will allow new insights into human health and disease prevention and treatment-including heart, lung, and kidney function, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis (bone loss), hormonal disorders and brain function.
Onboard, crew members will study materials that could not exist and processes that could not take place on Earth because of the overwhelming influence of gravity. Materials to be investigated include polymers (used on Earth for everything from paint to contact lenses), semiconductors for high-speed supercomputers and electronics, and high-temperature superconductors that will make electrical devices operate more efficiently. The Space Station will inspire a new generation of Americans to explore and achieve, while pioneering new methods of education to teach and motivate the next generation of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and explorers.
International Space Station - ISS news and bulletin board
International Space Station - ISS contruction/mission plan
International Space Station - ISS news, information, images, audio
* Image credit - NASA
* This text was adapted from the DFRC ISS Fact Sheet.