Lesson 4: The International Space Station: a giant jigsaw puzzle
The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest international scientific joint venture ever undertaken in history. The USA, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe are involved in this project.
When the ISS is completed, it will cover an area as big as a football pitch. It would have been impossible to build ISS on the ground and then launch it into space in one go; there is no rocket big enough or powerful enough! So the Space Station is taken into space piece-by-piece and gradually built in orbit, approximately 400 km above the Earth's surface. 50 launches will be necessary to send all the pieces of this giant puzzle…
Other flights are also necessary; some bring supplies, such as oxygen, food and water, others exchange the crew every 6 months.
Which parts do we need to make a Space Station?
- The solar panels collect energy from the sun and supply energy to the Station.
- The radiators disperse the heat.
- The astronauts live, eat, sleep, and spend some time together in the service modules.
- They perform scientific experiments on plants, human body, medicine, etc. in the laboratories.
- The spacecraft the astronauts use to travel to the Station and to come back to Earth after their mission are docked to ports.
- In the storage units, the astronauts keep the instruments that they need for the experiments, and also water, food, etc.
- A robotic arm assembles the different pieces of the station.
- The astronaut put on their spacesuit in the airlock before they exit the Station to work on its external surface during an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA or spacewalk).
Last update: 8 January 2013