International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multinational research laboratory focused on the development of science and technology in micro gravity (internal) and space environments.  Since its launch in 1998 by the United States, over 2,700 research investigations have been conducted, many of which have led to disruptive technological innovations with commercial applications in aerospace.  ISS initiatives continue to advance research and development in the areas of nanotechnology, energy and sustainability, additive manufacturing, advanced materials and coatings, sensors, imagery, communications and navigation, computer science, robotics and electronics. 

The ISS also tests and demonstrates spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars as well as their long-term effects on the human body, to determine if high duration human spaceflight and space colonization are feasible.  Although the participating space agencies include NASA (U.S.A.), ROSCOSMOS (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada), individuals from 19 countries have visited the ISS since the program’s inception.  Since November 2000, the ISS has been continuously occupied. 

The ISS is almost the length of a football field and is the largest artificial object in space, making 16 orbits around the earth in a 24-hour period.  Powered by an acre of solar panels, the ISS has more than 50 computers controlling its systems, and approximately 350,000 sensors monitored through its on-orbit software.  A spacecraft can travel to the ISS in approximately four hours.  (Source: NASA, ISS National Lab).