The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations and the American Skylab.
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Major ISS modules have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and US Space Shuttles.
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ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research, with power, data, cooling, and crew available to support experiments.
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Usually, there is no physician on board the ISS and diagnosis of medical conditions is a challenge.
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Remote sensing of the Earth, astronomy, and deep space research on the ISS have dramatically increased during the 2010s after the completion of the US Orbital Segment in 2011.
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Examples of Earth-viewing remote sensing experiments that have flown on the ISS are the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, ISS-RapidScat, ECOSTRESS, the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, and the Cloud Aerosol Transport System.
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ISS-based astronomy telescopes and experiments include SOLAR, the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, the Calorimetric Electron Telescope, the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image, and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
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ISS crew provides opportunities for students on Earth by running student-developed experiments, making educational demonstrations, allowing for student participation in classroom versions of ISS experiments, and directly engaging students using radio, and email.
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Amateur Radio on the ISS is a volunteer programme that encourages students worldwide to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, through amateur radio communications opportunities with the ISS crew.
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ARISS is an international working group, consisting of delegations from nine countries including several in Europe, as well as Japan, Russia, Canada, and the United States.
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ISS'spherd had been advocating the use of a new name to project managers for some time.
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Joint Airlock is provided by the U S and provides the capability for ISS-based Extravehicular Activity using either a U S Extravehicular Mobility Unit or Russian Orlan EVA suits.
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Columbus is a science laboratory that is part of the ISS and is the largest single contribution to the station made by the European Space Agency.
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Leonardo is primarily used for storage of spares, supplies and waste on the ISS, which was until then stored in many different places within the space station.
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ISS has a large number of external components that do not require pressurisation.
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The largest scientific payload externally mounted to the ISS is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics experiment launched on STS-134 in May 2011, and mounted externally on the ITS.
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Staff on Earth or the ISS can operate the MSS components using remote control, performing work outside the station without the need for space walks.
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Station Support Computer laptops aboard the ISS are connected to the station's wireless LAN via Wi-Fi and ethernet, which connects to the ground via Ku band.
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Uncrewed spaceflights to the ISS are made primarily to deliver cargo, however several Russian modules have docked to the outpost following uncrewed launches.
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In November 2019, researchers reported that astronauts experienced serious blood flow and clot problems while on board the ISS, based on a six-month study of 11 healthy astronauts.
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ISS is partially protected from the space environment by Earth's magnetic field.
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Outside Earth's atmosphere, ISS crews are exposed to approximately one millisievert each day, resulting in a higher risk of cancer.
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Additionally, airline passengers experience this level of radiation for a few hours of flight, while the ISS crew are exposed for their whole stay on board the station.
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ISS working environment includes further stress caused by living and working in cramped conditions with people from very different cultures who speak a different language.
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The acoustic environment on ISS changed when additional modules were added during its construction, and as additional spacecraft arrive at the ISS.
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In November 2021, a debris cloud from the destruction of Kosmos 1408 by an anti-satellite weapons test threatened the ISS, leading to the announcement of a yellow alert, leading to crew sheltering in the crew capsules.
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ISS is visible to the naked eye as a slow-moving, bright white dot because of reflected sunlight, and can be seen in the hours after sunset and before sunrise, when the station remains sunlit but the ground and sky are dark.
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The ISS takes about 10 minutes to pass from one horizon to another, and will only be visible part of that time because of moving into or out of the Earth's shadow.
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The ISS is visible in broad daylight, albeit with a great deal more difficulty.
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Tools are provided by a number of websites such as Heavens-Above as well as smartphone applications that use orbital data and the observer's longitude and latitude to indicate when the ISS will be visible, where the station will appear to rise, the altitude above the horizon it will reach and the duration of the pass before the station disappears either by setting below the horizon or entering into Earth's shadow.
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Under specific conditions, the ISS can be observed at night on five consecutive orbits.
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ISS passing north on its third pass of the night near local midnight in June 2014.
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ISS passing west on its fifth pass of the night before sunrise in June 2014.
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The modules under consideration for removal from the current ISS included the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, launched in July 2021, and the other new Russian modules that are proposed to be attached to Nauka.
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In January 2022, NASA announced a planned date of January 2031 to de-orbit the ISS using a deorbit module and direct any remnants into a remote area of the South Pacific Ocean.
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ISS has been described as the most expensive single item ever constructed.
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