Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Watching the International Space Station zip past!

At 7 pm CST tonight the International Space Station zipped past overhead! What an amazing thing to see with the naked eye!

The International Space Station (ISS) is an internationally developed research facility that is being assembled in low Earth orbit. On-orbit construction of the station began in 1998 and is scheduled for completion by 2011. The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015, and likely 2020. With a greater mass than that of any previous space station, the ISS can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye, and, as of 2010, is the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth.

The ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology. The station has a unique environment for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to the Moon and Mars.

The ISS is operated by Expedition crews, and has been continuously staffed since 2 November 2000, meaning the ISS programme has maintained an uninterrupted human presence in space for the past 9 years and 124 days, which is approaching the current record, set aboard Mir, of 9 years and 257 days. As of 1 December 2009, the crew of Expedition 22 is aboard.

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