In 1969, the American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to land on the moon. After this spectacular event, the idea of manned space station was born. In 1986, the dream became reality. The Russian space station MIR was put into operation. In 1998, Russia, the USA, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain agreed ob building a new and larger space station. So the small MIR became useless and was brought down controlledly in 2001. The joint construction of the ISS went rapidly forward, so that the first astronauts and cosmonauts could move in 2000.
Since then, the ISS has been orbiting the earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometres. This corresponds to the distance between Paris and Cologne. With a speed of approx. 28,000 kph it takes 93 minutes for completing one orbit around the earth. Of course, the crew members have a great of the our planet. However, there‘s little time for enjoying the view. All astronauts and cosmonauts have a lot of work to do. Until now, about 220 astronauts have been on board the ISS. Most of them are scientists who carry out countless experiments in the fields of gravitation, biology, chemistry, physics and technology to explore life on earth and in space. There are more than 30 modules contain laboratories or habitats which have been attached one after the other since 1998. Four big solar units supply power. Measuring an area of 4,500 m², they are as large as a soccer field and they are always perfectly aligned with the sun.
Of course the occupants aboard the ISS not only need electricity, but also food, fresh water, clothes, oxygen and spare parts. The required goods are mainly flown to the ISS by means of unmanned transport spaceships. Among the cargo spacecrafts there are the Russian "Progress", the American "Dragon" and "Cygnus" as well as the Japanese "HTV". Also the manned flights to the ISS are important. After all, the crews of up to six people need to change every few months. Since the very last flight of the American Space Shuttle Atlantis in the year 2011, this task has been exclusively carried out by the Russian Soyuz spacecrafts.
So, you also feel like visiting the ISS and casting a glance at the earth while being at zero gravity? Actually, that is no, as long as you have 18 million euros left. That is the price for flying to the space station and staying there as a space tourist for one week. Seven people have made this dream come true, the American millionaire Charles Simonyi even twice.
Spacemen in America, Japan and Europe are titled Astronauts.
But in Russia Cosmonauts and in China Taikonauts!
Span: 109 m
Length: 97.9 m
Depth: 27.5 m
Volume: 910 m³
Mass: 455 tons
Orbital altitude: ca. 400 km (Moon: approx. 380,000 km)
Orbit time: approx. 93 min
Top speed: 28,000 kph