NASA on Monday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first long-term mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
On November 2, 2000, the crew of Expedition 1 arrived at the space station with a mission to create a science laboratory in orbit.
The three spacefarers, NASA’s William Shepherd and Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, docked at the ISS after two days aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.
Since then, humans have lived and worked on the station for 20 years straight. It now hosts Expedition 64.
“Our orbiting laboratory has been continuously inhabited ever since: over 240 humans from 19 countries have visited, carrying out over 3,000 ISS research investigations,” NASA tweeted.
According to NASA, experiments have been conducted in every field of science in the ISS’ unique microgravity environment, improving our understanding of diseases, natural disasters and physics.
Researchers have tested technologies and honed skills needed for further space exploration and to establish a human presence on the moon and Mars.
An international crew of six people occupy the ISS, which has a wingspan of 109 metres and whizzes some 400 kilometres above our planet at 28,000 kilometres per hour.
The project is a pact between the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, and the 11 member states of the European Space Agency.
“We’ve set the tone for international cooperation,” Joel Montalbano, ISS programme manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center told the podcast Houston We Have a Podcast.
“When we’ve had troubles, we came together across the globe to go fix that,” Montalbano said.