Fifteen years ago today, a three-person crew docked with the International Space Station. For the next 5,478 days in a row, there have been humans orbiting 250 miles above our heads, seeing a sunrise every 90 minutes as the Earth turns beneath them at five miles per second.
To celebrate our continued place in space, NASA has released an infographic that details everything you need to know about the station, the experiments on board, and how good the ISS is at recycling pee (hint: really good):
A number that really jumps out is how many people are currently involved in the space station program: 100,000 people in space agencies and 500 contractor facilities across 16 countries. Space exploration doesn’t take a village, it takes something equivalent to 1/6th the population of Vermont. Over 45 crew missions, 1,200 scientific papers have been published with results from a station that has the same amount livable space as a six bedroom house where crews have eaten 26,500 meals.
The ISS is more than a space station — it really is a massive, collaborative effort that speaks to the best in us. It’s not just for experiments, or for proving capabilities, the ISS represents hope and enthusiasm for the future, and a stepping for our inevitable journey to Mars.
“For 15 years, humanity’s reach has extended beyond Earth’s atmosphere,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a press release. “Since 2000, human beings have been living continuously aboard the space station, where they have been working off-the-Earth for the benefit of Earth, advancing scientific knowledge, demonstrating new technologies, and making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.”
Images: NASA/Crew of STS-132; NASA