Everything You Didn’t Know About Space Stations
The history of space stations is crazy!
The fantasy of living in space has been around for a long time. And now living in space has become a reality. The International Space Station, ISS, has been continually occupied since November 2, 2000. The ISS is still a long way off from the dream of creating a colony in space where life goes on like it does here on Earth. In the meantime, here are some interesting facts about space stations to hold you over until then.
The first occupied space station was built and launched by the Russians. Salyut 1 was launched on April 19, 1971. The name Salyut, pronounced “salute,” means “fireworks.” The Russians changed their space program from the moon race to a space station after the U.S. first landed on the moon on June 20, 1969.
There were seven Salyut stations in total. Not all of them were successful. A few of the missions either failed to stay in orbit or there were issues docking the crew. Two of the successful missions were not scientific. They were for the Russian military. The idea was to use the space station as a spy station. Rumor has it one of these stations was armed with a cannon and they successfully tested it. Military use of the Salyut stations was abandoned after satellites ended up being a better and cheaper option.
The Mir space station launched on February 19, 1986. It was an improved Salyut structure designed for long term use and expandability. In fact, the Zvezda module of the ISS is a further improvement of the design.
When Mir was deorbited and crashed back to Earth, Taco Bell offered a free taco to everyone if the space station hit a target they floated out in the ocean. Sadly the target was nowhere near where the station landed, so no one got a taco.
There is gravity in the ISS. It’s about 90% of the gravity as at Earth’s surface. Technically the ISS is in constant freefall, but all the objects inside are falling with it so what we see as weightlessness is actually two objects falling together.
The start to colonizing space is space tourism. For about $40 million dollars, a person can buy themselves a flight to the ISS. There are open seats depending on the staffing needs of the ISS. Space tourists help to offset the immense cost of sending researchers and supplies to the ISS. Currently, there are a few companies trying to bring down the cost of sending civilians into space: Space X, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin to name a few. Some companies, like Galactic Suite Space Resort, have plans to build space stations specifically for tourists.
Some people think the first person to live in space or go to Mars is already alive now. It could be you! Science and engineering degrees are what most astronauts study in school. So if you want to become one, that’s a good place to start. Or, somehow make a lot of money and buy your way up there. The good news is prices are dropping!