International Space Station marks 20 years of continuous human presence

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and her crew mates will celebrate the 20th anniversary of continuous human habitation of the International Space Station (ISS) on November 2.

The ISS has been continuously occupied since November 2, 2000, when NASA astronaut and Expedition 1 commander William “Shep” Shepherd and flight engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko became the first residents.

At the time, the space station was only three modules, not the research complex that today is as large as a five-bedroom home with a gym, two bathrooms and a 360-degree bay window looking at Earth below.

An international crew of six people lives and works on the station while traveling at a speed of 8 kilometers per second, orbiting Earth about every 90 minutes.

More than 2,700 experiments have been conducted on the space station from 108 different countries. These experiments have examined innovative technologies like waste plastic recycling and carbon dioxide filtration, both critical steps for long-duration missions on the lunar surface.

Learn more about the International Space Station here (PDF, 6.6 MB).

The ISS is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. Here is how to view it.