What Is It?
What orbits the earth at 17,500 miles per hour, is the size of two football fields and has a crew of seven? It is the International Space Station! Scheduled to be completed in 2006, 17 countries will have sent up parts or helped to build the International Space Station in some way. When completed it will house seven astronauts and be the biggest man made structure orbiting the Earth. To build it, more than 100 modules will be sent up in 45 launches, and they will have to fit the first time or else the consequences could be disastrous.
So far, three modules have been sent up and successfully connected. They are the Zarya control module, the Unity connecting module, and the Zvevda service module. The Zarya control module generates three kilowatts of the power in the International Space Station; the rest is generated by giant solar panels. It also serves as a place to store cargo. The Unity connecting module does just what its name implies, connects the Zarya and Zvevda modules. The Zvevda module has the life support, supplies some electricity, and has some of the crew’s living quarters.
Interesting Facts About The ISS
The International Space Station will be much bigger and different from all other space stations. Most stations were small and cramped and you had to eat dehydrated food (food without water in it). The International Space Station on the other hand, is larger, brighter, and will have a refrigerator with fresh foods. In addition, it will be maintained at a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike other stations in which the temperature can range from 67 degrees Fahrenheit to 83 degrees Fahrenheit.
To get to the International Space Station you have to go up in a space shuttle. This is not the easiest thing to do, though. You must go through two years of extensive training and some of it is in the wilderness of Canada during winter. Also, you have to train in a special underwater pool.
The International Space station will be manned at all times. The first crew went up on October 31, 2000. The size of the crew will depend on how many people the escape craft can hold. Right now the Soyuz Russian Reentry vehicle can only hold three people, so the current crew will not exceed three people. When the more compact CRV (Crew Return Vehicle) is delivered, the crew can be up to seven astronauts.
Life in the International Space Station is just like life on Earth except for one thing, weightlessness. In weightlessness or 0g’s (zero gravity) you freely float around, so doing anything is a challenge. In addition, because of 0g’s everything must be strapped down. Even when you’re sleeping, you must be strapped down or you’ll float away!
Since astronauts will do most of the construction of the International Space Station on the outside, there is a large danger of a micrometeoroid hitting the astronaut while working outside of the space station. Most micrometeoroids that hit astronauts are only the size of a grain of sand, so they don’t cause any harm. However, if a bigger micrometeoroid hit the astronaut it could go right through him. That’s why a special robot has been developed to work on the exterior of the station while the astronaut pilots it safely from inside the station.
Nevertheless, there still are dangers, like if a large enough rock hits the station and causes an irreparable air leak, what could we do? The current Russian re-entry vehicle can only hold three people, not the entire crew of seven. Because of this NASA designed the CRV (crew return vehicle) with only one purpose, to evacuate the crew. Although it is a very good way to evacuate people from the space station, the CRV is very uncomfortable, only being as big as a car.
Benefits Of The ISS
Why would we go and spend trillions of dollars to build an International Space Station? An asteroid is a very large rock traveling very fast through space, and if a big enough one were to hit Earth, it could eliminate all life or a great deal of it. Therefore, the space station could help us know about one ahead of time, and help us destroy it. The International Space Station could allow us to divert or destroy the asteroid with a laser or nuclear missile to keep it from hitting earth.
Disease has always been a threat to humans. In space, we can perform experiments that we can’t do on Earth. Also, in space we can grow human tissue because of no gravity. Maybe, someday, we can grow organs in space to buy for transplants!
Going to other planets has always been a great idea because Earth is beginning to get dangerously polluted, but to go there it is extremely expensive. It requires vast amounts of fuel to launch a rocket through the earth’s atmosphere and gravity. If we started at the space station, we wouldn’t have to go through the gravity and atmosphere of Earth. So to go to the moon it would probably cost only one third of the price it did the time first we went there!
In my opinion the effort and money put into the International Space Station is a worthwhile cause and will benefit all of mankind. I say that because the project is bringing the world together. Take the United States and Russia for an example; we were bitter rivals in the Cold War and in the space race. Now we are building a space station together!