2 November 2010, 15:19

ISS marks 10 years of human habitation

ISS marks 10 years of human habitation
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The International Space Station marks the 10 th anniversary of its continuous human habitation on Tuesday. Since the 2 nd of November 2000, over 190 people have visited the largest manned-space station that has embraced a group of researchers from 16 countries. Our commentary is by Mikhail Aristov. One can see it through a pair of binoculars from the ground.

The International Space Station marks the 10th anniversary of its continuous human habitation on Tuesday. Since the 2nd of November 2000, over 190 people have visited the largest manned-space station that has embraced a group of researchers from 16 countries. Our commentary is by Mikhail Aristov.

One can see it through a pair of binoculars from the ground. The huge laboratory complex covers almost an area of a football field. At present, it consists of 6 American and 5 Russian modules and also the European laboratory “Columbus” and the Japanese “Kibo”. The American space shuttle, Discovery, will deliver a cargo module “Leonardo” this month to dock it with the ISS. Meanwhile, a Russian multi-purpose laboratory is expected to dock with the ISS in 2012.

The ISS mission is controlled by two centres on Earth, one in the city of Korolev near Moscow and the second in Huston , Texas. Experts from foreign countries are always present at each centre.

Russia has recently proposed to its space research partners creating an assembly shop on the basis of the ISS to carry out long-distance flights from orbit. Most likely, the idea is fantastic, but it was discussed at a conference of space agencies in Tokyo, says the head of manned-flights programmes of the Russian space agency, Alexei Krasnov.

“The use of the ISS as a spacecraft assembly shop is interesting for all,” says Alexei Krasnov. “These spacecraft can fly from the Earth’s orbit and carry out a mission and return to the ISS or land on the ground. Russian engineers believe the project can be implemented, although we are at the start. Our colleagues from NASA and the European Space Agency have shown keen interest in it. Consequently, we hope to discuss the technical details of such a facility at the earliest,” Alexei Krasnov said.

This means that the ISS may become an assembly shop for spacecraft and the main orbital launching pad in a few years. The 25th expedition arrived at the ISS on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft like ten years ago. But the new Soyuz is equipped with a new generation digital control system. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft will guarantee the rotation of crews from next year when the American space shuttles will be grounded.

On Tuesday, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochki and the American astronaut Scott Kelly gathered in the Russian module to mark the event. Their menu was quite simple, tea, coffee, chicken in white sauce, beef with vegetables and buckwheat. Among those who congratulated the crew is Sergei Krikalev who was the first to arrive at the station ten years ago. A week ago, the ISS set a new record of continuous human habitation by surpassing its predecessor, the Mir space station.

The heads of the space agencies of Russia, Canada, Europe, Japan and the U.S. have concluded that there is no technical obstacle to extend the life expectancy of the ISS up to 2020. This means we can see the ISS in the sky for another decade.

 

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