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NASA - International Space Station patch image
The International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station (ISS) is a unique spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. It is the largest and longest inhabited object ever to orbit the Earth. There has been uninterrupted human presence on the space station since 2000. The ISS is an amazing feat of technology that allows humans to explore, live in, and perform science in space. Onboard the ISS, crew members live and work in a reduced gravity environment. This environment allows crew members to conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology that could not be done on Earth. It also offers a rare opportunity for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to Mars and the Moon.

The ISS is approximately the size of an American football field (including the end zones) and has the interior volume of one and one half Boeing 747 jetliners. As of June 2011, the ISS consists of 15 pressurized modules for research and crew living quarters and an extensive integrated truss structure that provides power to the space station from the sun. It is an incredibly complex spacecraft made from science and technology.

The ISS was built with international partners, including five space agencies representing 15 nations. It shines as a peaceful, cooperative effort towards understanding space exploration. The results of the research completed on the ISS enable us to improve life on this planet. It also gives the international community the experience and understanding needed to journey to other worlds.

The International Space Station is a laboratory, observatory and factory in space. In recent years it has also become a place for commercial, diplomatic and educational use. The future for the space station is still evolving. While science research will continue, there are many other possibilities for the space station technology. The ISS could be a staging site for future missions to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. It could also be used as a transportation vehicle or a place to repair satellites and other vehicles.

The ISS operates as an amazing laboratory orbiting the Earth. The make up of the space station includes many systems working together. There are core systems and secondary systems that make it possible for crew members to live and work successfully in space. These systems are monitored by the flight controllers in the Mission Control Center.