In recent years, there have been few space projects as exciting as the International Space Station, or ISS. Even though it is the 9th space station to take orbit, it is the first to house a full-time crew and a dedicated research laboratory. And, with recent social media exploits – like those of the excellent Commander Chris Hadfield who famously sang David Bowie’s Space Oddity from orbit – space has never looked so near or friendly for the human species.
The ISS by its very definition is an international project, built with collaborations from programs including NASA, the European Space Agency, Japanese National Space Development Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. That’s a good thing because the project has racked up an estimated $150 billion cost – enough to build at least 18 Large Hadron Colliders.
With such an international audience visiting the space station, it’s also a good thing it has been built as an international space port; accepting a variety of spacecraft from the now retired Space Shuttle, to the highly reliable MIR capsules and most recently a first time docking with SpaceX’s Dragon.
With an operational lifetime of at least another seven years, we’re expecting to see a lot of discoveries coming out of this exciting project.