For thousands of years, people looked up at the night sky looking at the stars, seeking guidance, dreaming. While centuries passed with humans using the night sky for navigation or to record the passage of time, it was only in the last century that we actually started reaching for those stars, and not metaphorically.
The first human in space, the first person on the Moon, the first person to orbit the Earth… first big milestones in a tremendous journey for human spaceflight. And as humanity charts its space travel course towards Mars, people are orbiting the Earth as we speak, contributing to those plans of the future.
The International Space Station has been up in the low Earth orbit for over twenty years and has had 236 people from 18 countries (as of 14 March 2019) aboard. While all of them had scientific reasons to be there, they also took the chance to capture the breathtaking views of Earth from space that they witnessed. And luckily for us all, some of the astronauts shared some of their cool photos on social media. So, if you’re one of the people whose heart is drawn towards the stars or you just like pretty space views, check out a different perspective and see what we look like from the sky’s point of view. Oh, and don’t forget to comment and vote for these interesting photos!
The ISS started as a joint project and there are 5 organizations taking part in it: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The first component of the ISS was launched in 1998 and only 2 years later, on 2 November 2000, the first long-term residents arrived at the station in low Earth orbit. The first expedition launched on October 31, 2000 and landed on March 21, 2001 with a crew of three: an American astronaut, William M. Shepherd, and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. Expeditions refer to permanent ISS crews and exclude resupply missions and space tourists.
The current crew aboard the ISS is Expedition 60 commanded by Aleksey Ovchinin, who transferred from Expedition 59 together with American flight engineers, Nick Hague and Christina Koch. The remaining 3 members of the crew, Aleksandr Skvortsov, Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan, are scheduled to join them on the 20th of July, 2019. The expedition will last until October 2019 when Soyuz-MS-12 will undock from the station.
The ISS is a microgravity and space environment research laboratory where the crews conduct various experiments in a number of fields (biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and others). The station is also used to test various flight components and systems required for missions to the Moon and Mars. One of the experiments conducted by the crew involved sending frozen mice embryos to the ISS to test the effects of radiation from the sun and cosmic sources. The embryos will then be sent back to Earth to be implanted into surrogate mothers where scientists would observe their lives and possible changes in their lifespan, cancer development, and gene mutations.
The current record holder and the person who spent the most time in space (879 days) is RKA cosmonaut Gennady Padalka who was aboard Mir, a space station that was operated by the Soviet Union and later by Russia and was deorbited in 2001 and the ISS. The people who spent the longest time aboard the International Space Station are Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly who went on a year-long mission in March 2015 and spent 340.4 days in total aboard the spacecraft. Kelly was also part of the Astronaut Twin Study, where one twin brother spent a year in space while the other spent the same amount of time on Earth. NASA compared the data and found several long-lasting changes, including those related to alterations in DNA and cognition.
Note: this post originally had 127 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.