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The International Space Station

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The International Space Station

Building a sprawling space station while it’s in orbit around the Earth was never going to be easy, and co-ordinating six different space agencies to commission, launch and install the various exceptionally complex modules over a period of more than 20 years probably made things more challenging. Since 2000, the International Space Station (ISS) has hosted a constant human presence in low orbit. It has also been an important base for more than 3,000 scientific experiments. Key discoveries have included the effects of long-term exposure to zero gravity on the body, and a method for synthesising a state of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate.

“We built the largest peacetime engineering project ever, with pieces that never actually saw each other until they got to orbit” Christian Maender, former technical liaison for ISS operations at NASA

At $150bn, the ISS is the single most expensive item ever built

The station orbits the Earth 16 times per day

More than 1,000 hours of spacewalks have been required to build and maintain the ISS