Intl. Space Station Ops & Future, Use for Public & Private Research & Russian Side of Station

As the U.S. Space Program began to cut back, retiring the Space Shuttle and budget cuts, it appeared the days of the International Space Station, up since 1998, might be abandoned. That is not likely as the world of space travel and research has gotten more interesting with private companies like SpaceX and countries like India and China getting in the game.

Launching satellites for private companies and countries is a business that fledgling space programs and commercial enterprises can use as a leg up into the industry. Not only has SpaceX changed the economics of the space game by successfully recovering first stage rockets for re-use, but they have ambitions of launching an Internet service by putting up something like 400 satellites so its 40-million customers can enjoy online service for personal and business purposes.

  A Cool and Candid Look Inside the International
Space Station—Hosted by Astronaut Suni Williams

International Space Station Crew Discusses Life
In Space with Tennessee and Maryland Media

The Japanese Space Exploration Agency Offers Look
at Space Station & Links to Detailed Pages on Their Website

Fantastic view of the International Space Station with Earth in the background. The International Space Station (ISS) is a huge manned construction located about 400 kilometers above the Earth. While it circles around the Earth at a speed of 17,700 mph (or 90 minutes per orbit), Earth and star observation, or experiments and research are being conducted. ISS is intended to be utilized for more than 10 years after its completion.

JAXA, Japanese Space Agency logo with motto, Explore to Realize.The primary purposes of ISS are to provide a facility where we can conduct experiments and research for a long term by utilizing environment peculiar to the space, to promote science and technology by utilizing the results of such research, and to contribute to daily lives and industries on the Earth.

ISS-related Flight History and Schedule List of ISS-related flights and future schedule is provided.
ISS Crew Members (NASA website) List of crew members of current, past, and future expedition mission is provided.
ISS-related Extravehicular Activities List of ISS-related Extravehicular Activities is provided.

Links to Facts About International Space Station:

What is ISS?

Tour of the International Space Station

NASA Reference Guide to the Space Station
Click Image to Download or View PDF of Guide 

The International Space Station is a unique place–a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

COOL: Check Out 360 degee tours of internal and external parts of the Space Station & Crew Quarters from NASA at

It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of five miles per second, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes.

The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people from 15 countries have visited.

Crew members spend about 35 hours each week conducting research in many disciplines to advance scientific knowledge in Earth, space, physical, and biological sciences for the benefit of people living on our home planet.

The station facilitates the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit, operating as a national laboratory for scientific research and facilitating the development of U.S. commercial cargo and commercial crew space transportation capabilities.

More than an acre of solar arrays provide power to the station, and also make it the next brightest object in the night sky after the moon. You don’t even need a telescope to see it zoom over your house. And we’ll even send you a text message or email alert to let you know when (and where) to look up, spot the station, and wave!

The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, enabling research and technology developments that will benefit human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including asteroids and Mars. It is the blueprint for global cooperation–one that enables a multinational partnership and advances shared goals in space exploration.

Graphic of International Space Station showing it the size of a football field.

Look at Russian Side & Their Jobs on ISS
Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine, Sept. 2015

September 2015 cover of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine with story on Russian side of life at International Space Station. An article in the September 2015 issue of the Smithsonian Air & Space magazine provided a look not only how the Russians live and work on the International Space Station (ISS), but the commonalities that keep it going. It first went on to explain that the partner space agencies in ISS, United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada, appear to be “harmonious partners” but that there is really a separation in terms of living, working quarters and labor between the Russians and the others.

On the Russian side, at the end of Russian built propulsion and storage and module Zarya (Sunrise) is the Zvezda (Star) module which is the primary Russian living quarters. On the the other side is the American side with European and Japanese laboratories attached, essentially making it a divided life in which Western audiences rarely get to see Russian cosmonauts at all.

Russian Cosmonauts Living on International Space StationBut Zvezda is also what amounts to, as described in a Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine in September 2015 article, a “living quarters for the Russian crew and works as a space tug for the entire outpost, steering it, as necessary, away from space junk and compensating for the constant drag of the upper atmosphere. It also provides a powerful life-support system that works in tandem with the system inside the U.S. lab, Destiny.

“Inside their Zvezda home, the cosmonauts have turned the module’s aft bulkhead into a wall of honor on which they put photos and mementos. A careful student of Russian culture could monitor certain political moves by watching the changing images on the wall, which serves as a backdrop for crew photos and ceremonial broadcasts. The Soviet-era Salyut and Mir stations had similar walls, and naturally this prominent spot was often adorned with portraits of Vladimir Lenin and other Communist leaders. Sharp-tongued space engineers dubbed this spot ‘iconostasis,’ referring to a wall in Russian orthodox cathedrals where icons of the saints are displayed. The nickname has turned out to be prophetic.”

     International Space Station Russian Segment

Graphic cross-section of Russian segment of the International Space Station.

The following quotes from the article pretty much sum up the division of labor on the station; the Russians participating in few scientific experiments, keeping the station fixed and running while on the U.S. is replacement of worn out parts and scientific experiments of various kinds.

International Space Station with Russian segments highlighted in a graphic cross-section format. While answering online reader questions for the Moscow-based magazine Novosti Kosmonatiki, cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky acknowledged the problem: ‘Our share in numbers [of scientific experiments] is obviously less than we wanted. We can argue about the scientific value of experiments conducted by our [non-Russian] colleagues, but their equipment and its deployment is thought out and organized much better. On Mir we had specialized scientific modules and the entire spectrum of scientific research, but the ISS, in this respect, is in much worse shape’.“

“Nor do Russian cosmonauts participate in non-Russian scientific programs. ‘Crews work together during the flight onboard Soyuz and during emergency practice drills,’ Ryazansky explained. ‘The rest of the time, everybody works according to their plans and schedules. Of course, we try to get together for dinners, when we discuss current affairs, and to watch TV shows and movies, but unfortunately, not every day’.”

Click Here to read the whole article entitled A Rare Look at the Russian Side of the Space Station: How the other half lives.