The International Space Station (ISS) is a big space station that orbits close to Earth. It’s like a team project involving five space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA. It’s not only the biggest thing people put in space, but it’s also the largest satellite going around Earth. You can often see it from Earth, and it’s used for lots of scientific stuff.
NASA’s Plan to Retire the ISS Recently, NASA announced a plan to retire the ISS and bring it back to Earth. This is a huge task that will cost about $1 billion. To make it happen, NASA needs a special vehicle called the US Deorbit Vehicle (USDV). They put out a request to companies on September 20 to help with this. What the USDV Does Think of the USDV as a space tow truck. Its main job is to move the ISS from where it is now, about 175 miles above Earth, down to about 75 miles above Earth. This is the first step in retiring the ISS. NASA wants a vehicle that’s safe, reliable, and doesn’t cost too much for this job.
Similar to the Mir Space Station Some experts compare this to what happened with the Mir space station. They brought it back to Earth before. During this process, a lot of stuff from the ISS will come back into Earth’s atmosphere and eventually fall into the ocean. They’ll make sure to warn airplanes to stay out of the way, because this happens about once a month with smaller ISS cargo ships. Challenges in Bringing It Down When they’re lowering the ISS to about 250 kilometers above Earth, it’s kind of like driving on a windy road. They need a special vehicle like the USDV to do this safely. If they lose control, it could be a problem because they won’t be able to steer the engines properly.
The ISS and Scientific Research For more than 20 years, the ISS has been a fantastic place for space scientists to do experiments. They’ve done all sorts of studies in areas like biology, physics, medicine, materials, Earth, and space science. The ISS is really heavy, weighing over 444,615 kilograms, and it’s been essential for groundbreaking research.
The ISS Crew’s Role The people on the ISS have been a big part of these experiments. They’ve volunteered to be test subjects to learn how humans adapt to living without gravity. Besides their research jobs, they also have to do everyday things like cooking and cleaning during their long stays. All of this helps us understand how humans can explore the rest of the solar system.
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