The US space agency NASA celebrated the 25th anniversary of the start of work on the International Space Station (ISS) with a ceremony by telephone. NASA's deputy chief Bob Cabana and ISS program chief Joel Montalbano spoke on the phone for around half an hour on Wednesday with the astronauts and cosmonauts currently stationed on the ISS - seven men and women from the USA, Denmark, Japan and Russia.
Exactly 25 years ago on Wednesday (December 6th), the first two modules, “Unity” and “Sarja” (Dawn), were connected. The Russian module “Zarya” had been launched into space around three weeks earlier. The current deputy head of NASA, Cabana, was the first American to enter the ISS. "I can't believe it's 25 years ago today that we took Sarja and merged it with Unity. Absolutely fantastic," he said at the telephone ceremony.
Since then, humanity's outpost has been orbiting the Earth 16 times a day at a distance of around 400 kilometers. The ISS is a joint project of the space agencies of Russia, Canada, Japan, Europe and the USA - launched, among other things, as an international understanding project after the end of the Cold War.
Research has been carried out on the ISS without interruption since 2000
After connecting the first two modules, it continued to grow and is now about the size of a football field, a kind of 450-ton house with six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym and a panoramic window.
Astronauts have been researching in this space laboratory without interruption since 2000. Matthias Maurer was the last German to be there in 2021 to 2022. The total costs have long been well over $100 billion.
Despite maintenance, renovation and retrofitting, the ISS's technology is no longer state-of-the-art. There are always reports of damage, errors, leaks and other problems. In addition, the current global political situation does not make operating the ISS any easier. The ISS is one of the few objects on which Americans and Russians are still working together after the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine broke out at the end of February 2022.
The ISS could still be operated together until around the end of the decade; there is widespread agreement on this. She could then plunge into the Pacific in a controlled manner.