On November 20, we say Happy Birthday to an international icon. No, I’m not talking about Future, but instead about the International Space Station. In the nearly 22-years since it was shot in orbit, the International Space Station, or ISS, has become a hub of scientific research and international collaboration. The original long-term crew consisted of an American astronaut named William Shepard and two Russian cosmonauts named Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. Together, they helped to establish the reputation of the ISS during their 136 day stay. But the ISS has come a long way since then. To date, astronauts from more than 18 countries including Japan, Italy, France, Russia, and the United States have all found their home within the walls of the ISS.
Together they have conducted research on medication, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy, meteorology, and many more important fields of study. But that doesn’t mean it has been all work and no play. In fact, the crew members have described life on the ISS as joyful and fun. They entertain each other with jokes and demonstrations of talent, and they frequently go for space walks — upwards of 220 to give you some idea. These collaborative experiences have yielded fascinating scientific discoveries and helped participating countries to develop tighter diplomatic bonds. But perhaps more importantly, the ISS allows the astronauts the opportunity to share their one of a kind experiences about the world of space travel with a community who can relate to them. So on November 20, let us all wish a very happy birthday to the ISS, and hope for many more years to come.