International Space Station to Mark Decade of Constant Human Habitation in Space

As the International Space Station Program completes 10 years of continuous human presence, administrators and former crewmembers discuss its past, present and future. The first residents, astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko came aboard the ISS on Nov. 2, 2000 on Expedition 1.

**Tuesday, November 2** will mark an event of more long-term historic significance than mid-term Election Day results. The International Space Station (ISS) will have made nearly 60,000 orbits and traveled nearly 2-billion miles above us Tuesday, marking the 10th anniversary of the first American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts taking-up residency aboard the orbiting laboratory, hurdling 220-miles above our heads at the speed of 17,500 mph.

Despite the impending grounding of the space shuttle, the International Space Station will continue human operations until at least 2020, periodically growing a little brighter from expansion. The Russians, Europeans and Japanese will be sending cargo ships there. For the first time next year, a capsule launch from Virginia will arrive with water, food, and scientific experiments for the orbiting six-member crews.

In NASA parlance, there is a study underway for an international effort to build a human spaceship at the ISS to orbit the moon in this decade. There is also discussion of disassembly of a few modules of the ISS to use as crew quarters for a lengthier human mission to one of the many near-earth-asteroids. These concepts are more than power point charts: flash forward to the future, these studies and plans will become our reality as humans again break the bonds of Earth gravity to journey 240,000 miles to the moon or one million or more to an asteroid.

Space entrepreneurs are now building space vehicles to fly near the space station with privately owned inflatable habitats expanding the space neighborhood with more humans. This new breed space resident will launch to space from Virginia, as well as Florida, with men and women working on it every day now. In the decade ahead, the space station will serve as the orbiting location point where humanity will leave for the moon, the asteroids, and in the next two decades even to Mars.


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