International Space Station hits 15 Years in Orbit

International Space Station hits 15 Years in Orbit

Astronaut Scott Kelly aboard the International Space Station, photo courtesy of NASA.

SPACE — The International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting above our planet for 15 years as of this month.

Since November 2000, the ISS has been host to over 200 people from 15 different nations including Russia, Japan, Malaysia, South Africa and more.

Over the 15-year period, 189 space walks were preformed with the United States making the bulk of them, according to NASA.

Currently Astronaut Scott Kelly is participating in a longitudinal study in which he has become the first person to spend more than 215 consecutive days on the station and is scheduled to return on March 2 of next year with a total of 342 days.

Both NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden and White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Dr. John Holdren stated the significance of the program not just on scientific advancement, but for diplomacy.

“The international partnership that built and maintains the Station is a shining example, moreover, of what humanity can accomplish when we work together in peace,” Holdren said.

“I believe the station should be considered the blueprint for peaceful global cooperation,” Bolden said, adding “For more than a decade and a half, it has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 15 countries collaborate to advance shared goals.”

President Obama has extended the program through 2024, according to Bolden.

Here are some fun ISS facts courtesy of NASA:

• The ISS solar array could cover the U.S. Senate Chamber three times over.
• Fifty-two computers control the systems of the ISS.
• The ISS weighs almost one million pounds (approximately 925,000 pounds). That’s the equivalent of more than 320 automobiles.
• 3.3 million lines of software code on the ground support 1.8 million lines of flight software code.
• Eight miles of wire connects the electrical power system.
• When ISS was launched, Cast Away had Tom Hanks marooned on an island; in 2015 we have Matt Damon marooned on Mars in The Martian.