International Space Station Celebrates 15th Birthday


The International Space Station (ISS) is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Since 2000 over 200 astronauts and scientists  have been living and working on the space station. They have been conducted thousands of experiments and done research in technology, medicine and other fields. The International Space Station is often called the highest laboratory in the world. Five space agencies and 15 countries have paid for total costs of over $100 billion.

On October 31, 2000 the first crew came to the station. Two years before, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft brought a module called Zarya into earth orbit. It was to become the first element of the largest man-made object ever built in space. As more and more modules were added to the ISS it has become the size of a football field . The original Zarya module is still used as a storage area.

The International Space Station orbits the Earth at about 400 kilometres above its surface. Scientists hope that one day it will be the starting point of manned missions to Mars and even beyond.  At the moment the ISS is manned by Russian and American astronauts who are on a one-year mission, which is supposed to find out how long-term life in space affects humans.



As the ISS gets older more and more repair work is required. The American space agency NASA hopes to keep the ISS in operation until 2024.



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  • add = put together with something else
  • affect = change, have results
  • anniversary = birthday
  • beyond = even further
  • conduct = carry out
  • in operation = at work
  • lab or laboratory = special room or building in which scientists carry out experiments and do other work
  • long-term = something that continues for a longer time into the future
  • man-made = made by people , not natural
  • manned mission = trip with people travelling to other planets
  • orbit = to move around the Earth, sun or another planet
  • repair = to fix something that is broken
  • require = need
  • research = to study something in order to find out new things about it
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • size = how big something is
  • space agency= organisation that plans manned and unmanned trips to space and the planets
  • spacecraft = a machine or object that can travel into space
  • storage area = place where you keep things that you do not need at the moment
  • surface = top layer of an object