64 Facts About International Space Station–The Earth’s Only Microgravity Laboratory

Last updated on September 15th, 2023

The International Space Station is a joint venture by many different countries from around the world. Did you know you can see it from many places on Earth? Keeping this colossal station in orbit around the Earth costs a lot of money. Going to the space station is expensive, but many people have visited it since the beginning of its existence. The station also helps develop the systems and spacecraft used for future exploration on the Moon and Mars. With these facts about the International Space Station let us learn more about its history, operation, and other things that are associated with it.

Facts About The International Space Station

The cost!

1. The current International Space Station was initiated in 1993. NASA estimated that the cost of the station would be nearly $20 billion and be completed by 2003.

The launch of the control module

2. On 20 November 1998, the control module of the International Space Station was first launched. This piece of the station was launched from Russia and is known as the Zarya.

How many countries are involved?

3. The IGA, or International Space Station Intergovernmental Agreement, was signed on 29 January 1998. Up to fifteen countries were involved in the development project of the station.

Inhabited since?

4. The International Space Station has been occupied since 2000 uninterrupted. On 2 November 2000, one astronaut and two cosmonauts opened the door to the newly constructed International Space Station (ISS) and floated in. The space station has never been abandoned since, and there was always someone onboard.

Peggy Whitson. Facts About International Space Station
Peggy Whitson. She holds the records for the oldest woman spacewalker and the most spacewalks by a woman. Image via Wikipedia.org

The longest time spent in space by a woman ever!

5. On September 2, 2017, Peggy Whitson set the record for a woman living in space for the longest time. The total number of days she has spent in space is 675.


6. Assembling the International Space Station took more than 200 spacewalks. It was a milestone achieved by many astronauts who worked long hours.

How does it stay in its orbit?

7. The space station maintains its speed due to centrifugal force pushing it and gravity pulling it. It will stay like that indefinitely unless something changes.

To the station and back

8. Astronauts return from the station back to Earth in the same capsule that brought them there. The vehicles bringing them back are known as ballistic capsules.


9. Before astronauts can go on a spacewalk, they must go through a decompressing process. That is because the pressure of the spacesuit is lower than that of the station.

Where is the International Space Station?


10. You can see the International Space Station from different points on Earth with the naked eye. You may see it move quickly across the sky when you have clear night skies in the evenings. Map Source: www.esa.int

Speed and Orbit altitude

11. More than 17,000 miles an hour is how fast the International Space Station travels. That is roughly ten times the speed at which a bullet travels on Earth. The station orbits Earth at an average altitude of approximately 250 miles.

Which Time Zone?

12. The International Space Station travels through different time zones every 24 hours. So, it needs its time zone; it uses the Greenwich Mean Time.

Who owns it?

13. The International Space Station is jointly owned by the US, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe. Every country is responsible for the part of the space station they agreed upon.

Round and round

14. The station orbits the Earth as many as 16 times every 24 hours. It takes the satellite only 90 minutes to complete one orbit around the Earth.

15. Allowing crumbs and liquids to float around the space station can be hazardous. It can be challenging to manage and can float into astronauts’ eyes or even damage equipment.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins is pictured during a spacewalk
NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins is pictured during a spacewalk servicing communications gear outside the International Space Station’s Columbus laboratory module. Facts about the ISS. Image credit NASA

Walking in space

16. Spacewalks are necessary to keep up the station maintenance and make repairs. More than 260 spacewalks have been done since the space station came into use.

A healthy place to stay

17. To date, astronauts have never got ill from any food-borne illnesses on the space station. That is because they maintain a high level of microbiological standards.

Food in space

18. Did you know that Soviet cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin is the first person to eat in space, squeezing beef and liver paste from an aluminum tube into his mouth? Astronaut John H. Glenn was the first American to eat in space.

Most sought-after food items in space

19. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most difficult items to provide to long-duration crewmembers on ISS. Expedition 44 Flight Engineers Kimiya Yui, Kjell N. Lindgren, and Scott J. Kelly even tried growing vegetables in space and succeeded.

3000 experiments and counting

20. There are many scientists from different disciplines on the International Space Station. Nearly 3000 experiments have been conducted on the station with fascinating results.

Dark matter found

21. A particle detector (the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) is mounted on the International Space Station to measure cosmic-ray particles. Dark matter may have been detected, which may lead to other exciting discoveries.


Effect on muscle strength and bones

22. Staying on the ISS for an extended period can affect your body. Your muscles may grow weak, and even your heart doesn’t have to work that hard in microgravity. Astronauts exercise almost 2 hours a day to maintain their muscles and bones. They have a treadmill and a recumbent bicycle that they use for exercising. 

Space slows aging!

23. Time slows down on the space station. Astronauts age slower while they are in space. It is slower, though, only .007 seconds every six months.

How do they stay in touch with their family?

24. People staying on the International Space Station can stay in contact with their families. They are connected to the internet and can video call anyone on Earth.

Wider than the Boeing 777

25. The wingspan of the solar array (240 feet) of the International Space Station is longer than the wingspan of the Boeing 777 (212 feet). The International Space Station measures 357 feet end-to-end. That’s almost equivalent to the length of a football field, including the end zones (360 feet).

Powered by the Sun

26. A whole acre of solar panels powers the International Space Station. The panels rotate to face the Sun constantly, providing maximum power to the station.

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft is pictured docked to the station. ISS fact file
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Facts about the International Space Station. Image credit – NASA

The Docking system

27. Up to eight spaceships can dock with the International Space Station at a time. It is done with a docking mechanism between the station and space shuttles.

360-degree view

28. To easily observe and for a clear view, the space station has a 360-degree bay window. It is a dome with seven windows and a wide panoramic view.

Sleeping quarters

29. There are six sleeping quarters or crew cabins on the International Space Station and two bathrooms. They use eye masks when sleeping to block out light.


30. A very sophisticated gym is installed on the space station. It is essential for people who live in space to exercise regularly to keep their muscles from degrading.

Miles of wires

31. The electricity system onboard the space station is connected with up to eight miles of wiring. That is a lot of eclectic cables and adds to the total weight of the station.

32. The world’s biggest DC power station (in Space) is right there on the International Space Station. The design of the EPS was done by JAXA from Japan.

Canadarm. Facts About International Space Station
Canadarm–Canada’s most famous technological achievement in the field of robotics. Image via Wikipedia.org

Robots for help!

33. A giant 55-foot robotic arm known as Canadarm is used to move heavy objects around the station. It sometimes transports spacewalking astronauts to different destinations.

The journey to the ISS

34. A spaceship launching from Earth can reach the space station in just four hours. Depending on the spaceship used, it can also take as long as three days.

Computational prowess

35. More than 100 Laptops, tablets, and other devices are used on the International Space Station. About 52 computers control the functions and systems aboard the International Space Station. There are a lot of automated systems and functions to make life easier.

How many at a time?

36. People from different countries visit the space station from time to time. The most people who visited it in one sitting was 13; that was in 2009.

37. Three new teammates have been developed by NASA to help lighten the workload. These teammates are none other than three robots to help with research.

Time to build

38. More than 30 missions, and a whole decade later, the space station was built. That is how long it took to assemble every module and have it up and running where it is now.

Comparison satellite navigation orbits.svg
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Low Earth Orbit

39. The International Space Station orbits the Earth most of the time about 220 miles away. That distance places the station in low Earth orbit.

Coming together

40. Different space station modules are connected to form the complete construction. The modules are known as nodes, and resources are distributed among them.

41. Node 3 was the last of the modules to be launched. It is a European-built node and is considered the most advanced of them all.

Its final resting place after 2030

42. When it stops operating by the end of 2030s, the space station will be set to fall to the earth; its final resting place will be a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

How much it weighs?

43. Even though it doesn’t look like it, the International Space Station weighs roughly about 450 tons. It looks much lighter because it floats around freely in space.

The brightest and the biggest satellite orbiting the Earth

44. Did you know that the International Space Station is, fundamentally, a spacecraft? That’s because it is an artificial satellite, the brightest and the biggest one orbiting Earth.

ISS vs Venus

45. Sometimes, the International Space Station is as bright as Venus. The brightness of the stations is not always the same; it depends on how it reflects light from the Sun.


Inside the space station

46. Interested in seeing what it looks like inside the space station? Just go to street view (above) and explore the station; you also see how astronauts experience it.

Tea time!

47. Drinks on the International Space Station come in bags with straws. So, they can’t enjoy beverages like coffee and juices like we do on Earth.

48. Astronauts on the International Space Station cut their hair with a clipper attached to a vacuum. These clippers are specially designed to prevent hair from floating around.

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