How to travel to space, Earth’s hottest new destination

Go boldly, but pack lightly.

The space just above our planet is booming . Off-world trips are rapidly increasing: 42 of the 51 commercial astronauts recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration left Earth within the past two years.

The FAA predicts their ranks will balloon in the next decade — which may also bring new destinations, such as a rotating space hotel whose construction, planners claim, will begin in 2026 — and some experts have expressed optimism that relatively affordable space travel could be possible by the middle of this century.

For now, though, costs remain enormous. A $450,000 ticket reserves a spot on Virgin Galactic’s space plane, which flies 50 miles above Earth — six times a passenger plane’s cruising altitude. Expect to pay even more to go higher. Blue Origin’s 11-minute journey by rocket, which reportedly cost more than $1 million, shoots above the 62-miles-high Kármán line, the generally agreed-upon boundary between Earth and space. Others spend days in space. In September 2021, four civilian Americans orbited for three days aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. No word on how much it cost them.

For $55 million , Axiom Space will send astronauts via a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station, a laboratory that circles Earth once every 90 minutes. For two weeks last April, the ISS’s first Axiom crew members worked in the lab while forgoing proper showers.

The New Space Age

Space “ought to be on everybody’s bucket list,” said former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría , the Axiom Space vice president who commanded the April mission. “We’d be the first to admit that it’s not quite democratic yet, because it’s still pretty expensive, but we’ll get there.” The Houston-based company has already begun to build a segment of what will be a private space station.

Here’s how to pack and prep for Earth’s hottest new destination.

Getting ready

Training takes days to months. Axiom Space crew members spent at least 700 hours learning new tasks: how to run experiments, dock a transport vehicle to the ISS and respond to fires.

They also practiced on a centrifuge, the rapidly spinning machine that simulates the extreme acceleration of space travel. You don’t need to be in tiptop shape — floating in microgravity is effortless, López-Alegría said — but you will have to endure intense G-force as you exit and reenter the atmosphere.

You should be mentally prepared for a unique psychological experience called the overview effect , which occurs when people witness their home planet from above. “When we came back to Earth, I could not stop crying,” said aerospace PhD student Sara Sabry, founder of the Deep Space Initiative , who traveled to space last August via Blue Origin (whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post).

Aboard SpaceX, you’ll wear spacesuits: sleek, pressurized white outfits with black-visored helmets. On Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin flights, the fit is closer to a jet pilot’s, with gear that’s not designed for loss of pressure. Sabry said her suit was comfy and custom-tailored. Under Armour makes the clothes — underwear, jumpsuit and zip-up boots — for Virgin Galactic, which founder Richard Branson wore in his July 2021 journey to space’s edge.

Going boldly, packing lightly

Space may be the one place you can fly without packing an ID or passport . “When we walk onto the vehicle, we’re wearing our spacesuits and pretty much nothing else,” López-Alegría said.

Expect to leave the rest of your worldly possessions on Earth, with a few exceptions. Sabry packed three pounds of mementos in a bag, including photographs and a single dirty sock belonging to her niece. On Inspiration4, the Earth-orbiting SpaceX mission, one astronaut brought his ukulele to serenade his teammates in the capsule.

Snapping selfies

Don’t plan on filling your Instagram feed with your space travels to make your friends jealous. You won’t have your phone.

On Sabry’s Blue Origin flight, a few people had a GoPro strapped to their wrists to capture video — especially of the three minutes of weightlessness.

The ISS provides cameras to use. Astronauts can browse the internet on the space station, but posting requires help. Pictures snapped in space are beamed to Earth, López-Alegría said, where someone on the ground uploads them to social media.

Eating and drinking

There wasn’t any snacking on the Blue Origin craft, Sabry said, and the up-and-down trips don’t leave time for in-flight meals. Hot food isn’t always an option with other carriers, either. The first course served on the orbiting Dragon capsule was cold pizza, though SpaceX founder Elon Musk apologized for the unheated pie and promised future astronauts would have a food warmer.

Why NASA and other space agencies want to return to the moon

That’s how the crew heats dinner on the ISS, which boasts a varied menu: about 200 options , mostly freeze-dried or thermostabilized. Tortillas replace bread to avoid crumbs; what’s just a tabletop mess on Earth becomes a hazard when bits can float into electronics or eyeballs. There’s no soda or beer because, according to NASA, carbonation bubbles would be unpleasantly routed through the digestive system without gravity to help an astronaut burp.

Staying clean-ish

Space is like backcountry camping. Both lack laundry machines and require some hygienic compromises. When astronauts must bathe, they squeeze packets of soap and water on their skin and apply rinseless shampoo to their hair. Toilets on the ISS and Dragon Capsule collect waste via suction hoses and fans. On the space station, urine is recycled into drinkable water . Toothbrushes and paste are the same, but without sinks, there’s no spitting.

Falling asleep

You’ll roll out sleeping bags in the SpaceX spacecraft or as an Axiom crew member on the ISS. Vehicles are temperature-regulated because the outside of the ISS can swing from minus-250 in the shadows to 250 degrees in the sun. Still, some modules, or sections, of the ISS can be chillier than others: López-Alegría said he donned long underwear to be cozier when drifting off in space.

Illustrations by Elizabeth von Oehsen. Editing by Amanda Finnegan.

travel to international space station

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International Space Station — Everything you need to know

The ISS is an orbital laboratory and has hosted more than 250 people since 1998.

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ISS questions answered by an expert

Life on the international space station.

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Records in space

International space station and russia, additional resources, bibliography.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. 

Its main construction was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments. It has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000.

The ISS is not owned by one single nation and is a "co-operative programme" between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The International Space Station costs about $3 billion per year for NASA to operate, roughly a third of the human spaceflight budget, according to the agency's Office of the inspector general.

Related: International Space Station: Live updates

As of May 2022, 258 individuals from 20 countries have visited the International Space Station. The top participating countries include the United States (158 people) and Russia (54 people). Astronaut time and research time on the space station are allocated to space agencies according to how much money or resources (such as modules or robotics) they contribute. 

The ISS includes contributions from 15 nations. NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia) and the European Space Agency are the major partners of the space station and contribute most of the funding; the other partners are the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency . Through a private company called Axiom Space , private astronauts are starting to work on the orbiting complex, from time to time; additionally, astronauts from other nations such as the United Arab Emirates do fly occasionally to the ISS. 

Current plans call for the space station to be operated through at least 2024 , with the partners discussing a possible extension. NASA has approved an extension to 2030, although Russia says it will withdraw after 2024 to focus on building its own space station around 2028. How the station will be operated after Russia's departure has not yet been determined. After 2030, plans for the International Space Station are not clearly laid out either. It could be deorbited, or recycled for future commercial space stations in orbit.

Crews aboard the ISS are assisted by mission control centers in Houston and Moscow and a payload control center in Huntsville, Ala. Other international mission control centers support the space station from Japan, Canada and Europe. Elements of the ISS are controlled by mission control centers in Houston or Moscow. 

We asked Raphael Grau, deputy manager of NASA's International Space Station External Integration Office, a few frequently asked questions about the ISS. 

Raphael Grau is the deputy manager of NASA's International Space Station External Integration Office.

How big is the ISS?

The International Space Station is 356 feet (109 meters) end-to-end with a mass of 925,335 pounds (419,725 kilograms) without visiting vehicles. The solar panels alone cover one acre. There is 13,696 cubic feet of habitable volume for crew members, not including visiting vehicles. The space station has seven sleeping quarters, with the ability to add more during crew handover periods, two bathrooms, a gym, and the cupola — a 360-degree-view bay window of the Earth. You can learn more in the reference guide here . 

How high is the ISS?

The space station orbits Earth at an altitude of approximately 250 miles (402 kilometers), with its orbital path taking it over 90 percent of the Earth's population. Thanks to the size of its solar panels, it can be seen with the naked eye at dusk or dawn when flying over a local area. You can track the space station's path near you at . 

Who owns the ISS?

The International Space Station is exactly that — international. It is a partnership of five space agencies from 15 countries who contributed different parts to make up the ISS, which are still owned by the respective partner, and we all help to continuously operate the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The space station is composed of parts provided by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the countries comprising the European Space Agency. 

How to see the International Space Station

The International Space Station orbits Earth, at an average altitude of 248 miles (400 kilometers). 

At night, the ISS is visible from Earth, appearing as a luminous moving point of light and rivaling the brilliant planet Venus in brightness. It can be seen without the use of a telescope by night sky observers who know when and where to look. For more information on how to see and track the ISS, check out our guide.

You can also take pictures of the International Space Station with the right equipment; our guide takes you through how to photograph the ISS . 

Related: This International Space Station VR experience lets you explore the ISS… and it’s as amazing as it sounds

How fast is the ISS moving?

The ISS circles Earth every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h). In one day, the station travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back. 

There is typically an international crew of seven people that live and work inside the ISS. However, during the changeover of crew members, this number can vary; for example, in 2009, 13 crew members visited the ISS. This is also the record for the most people in space at one time. Occasionally, private missions such as those from Axiom Space bring non-professional astronauts on board the space station, too.

Typically, astronauts travel to the space station via SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule or, in the case of Russian cosmonauts, a Russian Soyuz capsule . The Soyuz was the primary form of transportation for all astronauts and cosmonauts after NASA’s space shuttle program retired in 2011. Crew Dragon began flying people starting with the Demo-2 mission that launched on May 30,  2020. Boeing's Starliner is preparing for launching humans after its successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) in 2022. 

Once at the station, astronauts will typically spend a mission period of around six months conducting various science experiments and maintaining and repairing the ISS. Outside of work, astronauts will spend at least two hours on exercise and personal care. They also occasionally perform spacewalks, conduct media/school events for outreach, and post updates to social media. The first astronaut to tweet from space was Mike Massimino, who did it from a space shuttle in May 2009.

Bedrooms in the ISS typically include small bunk beds. The astronauts tether themselves to a wall or allow themselves to freely float in the small space, depending on their preference. Crews temporarily visiting for just a few days may sleep in their spaceship or in a spare spot on the station, which is allowed as long as they tether themselves in space.

The ISS is a platform for long-term research for human health, which NASA bills as a key stepping stone to letting humans explore other solar system destinations such as the moon or Mars. 

Related: First 'Guardian' in space: NASA astronaut on ISS enters Space Force

Human bodies change in microgravity , including alterations to muscles, bones, the cardiovascular system and the eyes; many scientific investigations are trying to characterize how severe the changes are and whether they can be reversed. Astronauts also participate in testing out products — such as an espresso machine or 3D printers — or doing biological experiments, such as on rodents or plants , which the astronauts can grow and sometimes eat in space. As the only microgravity laboratory in existence, the ISS has facilitated more than 3,600 researchers to conduct more than 2,500 experiments to date.

Astronauts only have limited spare time in space, but they use it for activities like looking out the window, talking with friends and family, taking pictures or doing hobbies like playing instruments or sewing. One astronaut, Mark Kelly, once donned a gorilla suit on the ISS in 2016 as a practical joke on ground controllers.

Crews are not only responsible for science but also for maintaining the station. Sometimes, this requires that they venture on spacewalks to perform repairs. From time to time, these repairs can be urgent — such as when a part of the ammonia system fails, which has happened a couple of times . Spacewalk safety procedures were changed after a potentially deadly 2013 incident when astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet filled with water while he was working outside the station.

NASA now responds quickly to "water incursion" incidents. It also has added pads to the spacesuits to soak up the liquid, and a tube to provide an alternate breathing location should the helmet fill with water. In May 2022, NASA suspended spacewalks again following another water incursion incident, which is still being investigated; Russian Orlan spacewalks are still continuing as that is an independently manufactured spacesuit.

NASA has produced several machines to reduce the need for spacewalks, including the humanoid Robonaut 2. The dexterous machine joined the ISS crew back in 2011, however, after discovering a fault in the machine, Robonaut 2 was sent home to Earth in 2018 , for repairs. Also, onboard the ISS are several external robotic arms that can tackle maintenance issues remotely, such as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) — also known as Dextre — and the Canadarm2 (a 57.7-foot-long robotic arm). A European Robotic Arm on the Russian segment will be the third large operational arm on the space station following the end of its installation and commissioning, which is ongoing in 2022.

How big is the International Space Station?

The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and has a mass of 925,335 lbs. (419,725 kilograms), not including visiting vehicles. The complex now has more livable room than a conventional 6-bedroom house and has 2 bathrooms, gym facilities and a 360-degree bay window. Astronauts have also compared the space station's living space to the cabin of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

Inside the International Space Station

The International Space Station was taken into space piece-by-piece and gradually built in orbit using spacewalking astronauts and robotics. Most missions used NASA's space shuttle to carry up the heavier pieces, although some individual modules were launched on single-use rockets. The ISS includes modules and connecting nodes that contain living quarters and laboratories , as well as exterior trusses that provide structural support, and solar panels that provide power. 

Related: International Space Station at 20: A Photo Tour

The first module, the Russia Zarya, launched on Nov. 20, 1998, on a Proton rocket. Two weeks later, space shuttle flight STS-88 launched the NASA Unity/Node 1 module. Astronauts performed spacewalks during STS-88 to connect the two parts of the station together; later, other pieces of the station were launched on rockets or in the space shuttle cargo bay. Some of the other major modules and components include:

  • The truss, airlocks and solar panels (launched in stages throughout the ISS lifetime; docking adapters were launched in 2017 for new commercial spacecraft)
  • Zvezda (Russia; launched in 2000)
  • Destiny Laboratory Module (NASA; launched 2001)
  • Canadarm2 robotic arm (CSA; launched 2001). It was originally used only for spacewalks and remote-controlled repairs. Today it also is regularly used to berth cargo spacecraft to the space station – spacecraft that can't use the other ports.
  • Harmony/Node 2 (NASA; launched 2007)
  • Columbus orbital facility (ESA; launched 2008)
  • Dextre robotic hand (CSA; launched 2008)
  • Japanese Experiment Module or Kibo (launched in stages between 2008-09)
  • Cupola window and Tranquility/Node 3 (launched 2010)
  • Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (ESA; launched for permanent residency in 2011, although it was used before that to bring cargo to and from the station)
  • Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (private module launched 2016)
  • NanoRacks Bishop Airlock (launched 2020)
  • Nauka , Multipurpose Laboratory Module (launched 2021)
  • Prichal , a Russian docking module (launched 2021)

What else visits the ISS?

Besides the space shuttle and Soyuz, the space station has been visited by many other kinds of spacecraft. Uncrewed Progress (Russia) vehicles make regular visits to the station. Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle and Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle used to do visits to the ISS as well until their programs were retired. 

NASA began developing commercial cargo spacecraft for the space station under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which lasted from 2006 to 2013. Starting in 2012, the first commercial spacecraft, SpaceX's Dragon , made a visit to the space station. Visits continue today with Dragon and Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services program. Boeing is developing its Starliner for future human visits, too. 

The ISS has had several notable milestones over the years, when it comes to crews:

  • Most consecutive days in space by an American : 355 days, which happened in 2021-2022 with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.
  • Longest single spaceflight by a woman : 328 days, during American astronaut Christina Koch’s 2019-20 mission aboard the space station.
  • Most total time spent in space by a woman : Again, that's Peggy Whitson, who racked up most of her 665 days in space on the ISS.
  • Most women in space at once : This happened in April 2010 when women from two spaceflight missions met at the ISS. This included Tracy Caldwell Dyson (who flew on a Soyuz spacecraft for a long-duration mission) and NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Japan's Naoko Yamazaki, who arrived aboard the space shuttle Discovery on its brief STS-131 mission.
  • Biggest space gathering : 13 people, during NASA's STS-127 shuttle mission aboard Endeavour in 2009. (It's been tied a few times during later missions.)
  • Longest single spacewalk : 8 hours and 56 minutes during STS-102, for an ISS construction mission in 2001. NASA astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms participated.
  • Longest Russian spacewalk : 8 hours and 13 minutes during Expedition 54, to repair an ISS antenna. Russian astronauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov participated. 

Russia is a major partner in the International Space Station, but that relationship is changing. In February 2022, Russia undertook an internationally condemned invasion of Ukraine . As a result, numerous international space partnerships were dissolved. Russia, the United States and the other ISS partners do continue to operate the space station as normal, for now, NASA has emphasized. 

In July 2022, Russia announced it would withdraw from the ISS after 2024 . Its goals, Roscosmos said, are to build a new Russian Orbital Space Station around 2028 or so. The withdrawal will be gradual and the international partners are in discussions about the transition.

The ISS cannot be separated into independent Russia and United States sections as the complex is interdependent. NASA has said the U.S. supplies power, while the Russians control major propulsion maneuvers. It may be possible to independently raise the orbit of the ISS through U.S. spacecraft, which NASA and its partners are testing. 

The ISS does require such maneuvers to avoid falling into the Earth's atmosphere and dodging orbital space debris . Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test in November 2021 that has seen debris come close to the ISS orbit and require the crews to shelter in place; at the time, NASA and the United States expressed displeasure with the situation.

You can discover more about the ISS with this Haynes manual and through the eyes of the astronaut who lived there a year: Scott Kelly. Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery .

If you want to feel like you are living on the ISS yourself, look out the window of the ISS with this amazing visual guide: Interior Space: A Visual Exploration of the International Space Station: Photographs by Paolo Nespoli & Roland Mille . 

European Space Agency. About the International Space Station.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Blog. (2020, Oct. 23). The 20 Most Frequently Asked Questions About the International Space Station.

Garcia, Mark. (2021, Dec. 14.) International Space Station: Space Station Assembly. 

Garcia, Mark. (2022, March 30). NASA Station Astronaut Record Holders. NASA.

Garcia, Mark. (2022, Aug. 9.) International Space Station. NASA.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, " Why Am I Taller ?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon:

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travel to international space station

Where is the International Space Station?

The International Space Station with ESA’s Columbus laboratory flies 400 km high at speeds that defy gravity – literally. At 28 800 km/h it only takes 92 minutes for the weightless laboratory to make a complete circuit of Earth. Astronauts working and living on the Station experience 16 sunrises and sunsets each day.

The tracker above, developed by ESA, shows where the Space Station is right now and its path 90 minutes ago and 90 minutes ahead. Due to the Station's orbit it appears to travel from west to east over our planet, and due to Earth's own rotation the Space Station's moves 2200 km to the west on each orbit. You can see the International Space Station with your own eyes from here by looking up at the right time.

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Live onboard the international space station, coming soon: the new boeing starliner spacecraft, space station.

The International Space Station (ISS) is mankind’s only permanently manned outpost. In low-Earth orbit it circles the Earth every 90 minutes.

A visit to the ISS is like no other experience.  When you reach Earth orbit you will be traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, over 250 miles above the Earth’s surface and you will be weightless, floating inside your spacecraft.

Space Adventures has arranged all nine of the flights to space completed by private citizens to date. All of our clients have flown to the International Space Station on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft , and have lived and worked alongside professional astronauts for 10 days or more.

Since the dawn of manned spaceflight, over 600 people have traveled to space – we are pleased to be able to offer you the opportunity to be the next.

  • Circle the Earth every 90 minutes.
  • Marvel at the Earth from 250 miles above
  • Become one of the first 600 people to have ever flown to space

Please leave this field empty.


We are happy to discuss the options available in the next few years. Please contact us for the latest.


The International Space Station is permanently crewed by professional astronauts from the space station partner countries.  The size of the crew ranges from 4 to up to 12 professional astronauts.  It has an internal volume approximately the same size as a Boeing 777 aircraft, so there is plenty of space for privacy when needed.

More about the International Space Station in our Guide to the ISS or our Blog post – 7 things everyone should know about the ISS .


You will spend approximately 10 days in space, during which time you are principally free to do as you choose. Space Adventures has developed a suite of mission programs you can elect to participate in focusing on science education, ongoing human factor research or commercial activities.  Contact us to learn more. 

Yozo Hirano

Time in space: 14 days

Born in Ehime Prefecture, Japan in 1985. Yozo joined ZOZO Co. Ltd shortly after graduating from university, in charge of management and casting director of the photography team. After leaving ZOZO, he started working as a producer and manager for MZ’s private projects, including filming for MZ’s youtube channel. On the ISS, Yozo was responsible for filming MZ during their stay.

travel to international space station

Yusaku Maezawa

Yusaku Maezawa, or MZ. is a Japanese e-commerce entrepreneur and world renowned art collector. After high school he became a drummer in a rock band, and an avid record collector. His record collection became the foundation of his first company. His mail order business transformed into an online business, which lead him to own and run Start Today, a publicly traded online retail clothing business, which he eventually sold to Yahoo Japan in 2019.

His Contemporary Art Collection is considered one of the finest in the world, and includes works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons.

In September 2018 MZ announced his intention to fly on the SpaceX Starship, along with a number of guests, around the Moon in a project entitled #DearMoon. The flight is slated to take place no earlier than 2023.

MZ also has a strong social media following, and holds social media records, including for the most retweets. He uses his social media presence to promote his personal philanthropy, at one point giving away 1 million yen ($9,300) to over 1000 randomly selected followers.

travel to international space station

Guy Laliberte

Time in space: 11 days

Guy Laliberté was born in Québec City in 1959. An accordionist, stilt-walker and fire-eater, he founded the now world famous Cirque du Soleil in 1984. Guy Laliberté was the first to orchestrate the marriage of cultures and artistic and acrobatic disciplines that is the hallmark of Cirque du Soleil. Since 1984, he has guided the creative team through the creation of every show and contributed to elevating the circus arts to the level of the great artistic disciplines. Cirque du Soleil has become an international organization, as much in terms of its makeup as in the scope of its activities and influence. Guy Laliberté now heads an organization with activities on five continents.

In October 2007, Guy Laliberté entered into a second lifetime commitment by creating the ONE DROP Foundation to fight poverty around the world by providing sustainable access to safe water. This new dream stems from the knowledge that the right to water is key to the survival of individuals and communities all over the world and from the values which have been at the heart of Cirque du Soleil since its inception: the belief that life gives back what you have given and even the smallest gesture will make a difference.

Guy Laliberte became Space Adventures’ seventh private spaceflight client, and first Canadian private space explorer when he launched to space on Wednesday September 30th. During his stay in space Guy embarked on the first “poetic social mission” with the aim of raising awareness for the ONE DROP Foundation. Guy hosted a 2 hour live from space event with stars from across the world coming together at live events in 14 cities around the world. Artists and world-renowned personalities who came together to raise awareness of the importance of access to clean water, included former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Peter Gabriel, Shakira, and U2

travel to international space station

Charles Simonyi

Time in space: 25 daysAbout Charles and his spaceflight

Dr. Charles Simonyi began dreaming about spaceflight at an early age. Charles’ boyhood interest in space resulted in his selection as Hungary’s Jr. Astronaut at age 13, for which he won a trip to Moscow and met one of the first cosmonauts, Pavel Popovich. Today, Dr. Simonyi is a trained pilot in multi-engine aircraft with current licenses in jets and helicopters and more than 2,000 hours of flying time.

Dr. Simonyi’s goals for both his missions was to advance civilian space flight, assist space station research, and involve the world’s youth in the science of space travel. He is convinced that one day, humans will travel and live comfortably in space. Charles documented both his spaceflights extensively on his mission website,

“You know, every part had its highlights, and they just kept coming and coming. Arriving at the space station, for example. I knew that that would be magic, and it was beyond my wildest dreams.”

— Dr. Charles Simonyi

travel to international space station

Richard Garriot

Time in space: 12 days

Richard Garriott, the legendary video game programmer and designer became the sixth private citizen to conduct a space mission aboard the International Space Station in the Fall of 2008. Richard followed in the footsteps of his father, Owen Garriott a former NASA astronaut and became America’s first “second generation” astronaut. While Owen joined the NASA astronaut corps and completed two space missions during his career, Richard has helped to usher in another new era in manned space exploration.

Richard’s main objective for his mission was to encourage commercial participation. By fostering the involvement of individuals, companies and organizations in his spaceflight Richard hoped to demonstrate that there is commercial potential in private space exploration, while furthering the understanding of space. Richard demonstrated this by taking on various commercial projects, corporate sponsors for his mission activities and by helping companies market their products though their association with an actual space mission.

travel to international space station

Anousheh Ansari

An active proponent of world-changing technologies, Anousheh Ansari has dreamed of space exploration since childhood, and her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize. A living example of the American dream, Anousheh immigrated to the United States as a teenager who did not speak English. Anousheh dedicated her mission to creating public awareness for private spaceflight, inspiring youth to pursue their goals and promoting peace and understanding amongst nations. Like Dr. Olsen, Anousheh conducted experiments on behalf of the European Space Agency while she was in orbit. Anousheh became the first female private space explorer.

“By reaching this dream I’ve had since childhood, I hope to tangibly demonstrate to young people all over the world that there is no limit to what they can accomplish.”

— Anousheh Ansari

travel to international space station

Time in space: 9 days

Dr. Olsen read a New York Times article about Space Adventures’ plans for offering the private missions to the International Space Station. The article said that spaceflight participants would be able to take part as tourists, researchers, and explorers in these flight opportunities, and this captured Dr. Olsen’s imagination. While on orbit he communicated with students from his hometown via ham radio and took part in research on behalf of the European Space Agency.

“As all astronauts tell you, whatever you think now, once you get up there, its better.” — Dr. Greg Olsen

travel to international space station

Mark Shuttleworth

Time in space: 8 days

Mark Shuttleworth wanted to be the first African to fly in space. An Internet entrepreneur, Shuttleworth turned to Space Adventures to realize his dream. Dedicating his flight to educating South African youth and conducting scientific research, Shuttleworth returned from space a national hero. He now shares his experience and the excitement it generates with students across Africa, inspiring the next generation of explorers.

Mark conducted several experiments during his 10-day space flight. One experiment was the very first in the world to assess the impact of zero-gravity on the development of stem cells and embryos. Another was to determine the effect of microgravity on the cardiovascular system and muscles. A third was an attempt to crystallise HIV proteins in weightlessness in the hopes that, when X-rayed, they will give an accurate view of the virus structure. These experiments are being managed by world-class South African scientists from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Port Elizabeth, in collaboration with Russian space-science experts. More at

“An experience like that changes your perspective on life and on the world.…”

— Mark Shuttleworth

Dennis Tito

Dennis Tito

Time in space: 7 days

Dennis Tito is the world’s first private space explorer. For him, the journey to space was the completion of a long-held dream. In the early ’70s, Tito left a job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to pursue a career in finance, but he never stopped dreaming about spaceflight. Space Adventures helped Tito fulfill his life’s passion and make history by becoming the world’s first private citizen to fly to the International Space Station.

“For me, it was like being in heaven — it was like being in a second life.” — Dennis Tito


While the highlight is obviously the spaceflight itself, the training and preparation is a very rewarding experience in itself. Space Adventures will ensure you are appropriately trained and prepared using state of the art facilities, simulators and methods.

The price of the spaceflight depends on a number of factors and the we are happy to discuss with you further.  Please contact us for details.


travel to international space station


Richard Garriott on board the International Space Station (2008).

Richard Garriott on board the International Space Station (2008). 14666304101_a4fe98a080_b

The ever-changing view of Earth.

The ever-changing view of Earth.

The International Space Station is in low-Earth orbit, 400km above Earth.

The International Space Station is in low-Earth orbit, 400km above Earth.

Soyuz rocket being transported to the launch pad

Soyuz rocket being transported to the launch pad 14690344813_02e0f01dfc_h

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth.

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth. 14669513505_9afa4ae633_b

Your journey to the International Space Station begins in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Your journey to the International Space Station begins in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 14669511605_09c238c7cb_b

Greg Olsen on board the International Space Station (2005).

Greg Olsen on board the International Space Station (2005). 14669510485_9c7718e137_b

The Soyuz spacecraft approaching the International Space Station.

The Soyuz spacecraft approaching the International Space Station. 14669175642_f2635fc615_b

The ever-changing view of Earth.

The ever-changing view of Earth. 14667204974_a4641c516c_b

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth.

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth. 14667203464_30d639b902_b

The International Space Station has a permanent crew of up to 6 professionals.

The International Space Station has a permanent crew of up to 6 professionals. 14667201664_80386e5fb2_b

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth.

The new cupola is a great place to take photos of Earth. 14667201274_995028fe17_b

It takes just over 8 minutes to reach low-Earth orbit.

It takes just over 8 minutes to reach low-Earth orbit. 14482823910_8c4975e9c0_b

Anousheh Ansari on board the International Space Station (2006).

Anousheh Ansari on board the International Space Station (2006). 14666303971_c47b769289_b

The International Space Station circles the Earth every 90 minutes.

The International Space Station circles the Earth every 90 minutes. 14666300111_fdf7638fa6_b

You can get involved in space station science.

You can get involved in space station science. 14666298891_f33487c6ae_b

You launch on a Soyuz rocket.

You launch on a Soyuz rocket. 14483817618_2a2d9ce6f6_b

You and your fellow crew report for launch.

You and your fellow crew report for launch. 14483812568_d10f85e222_b

While in space you float weightless.

While in space you float weightless. 14483051967_543ec8e005_b

Earth and the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station.

Earth and the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. 14482881838_bfc70680a6_b

A great place to take photos of Earth.

A great place to take photos of Earth. 14482881018_a407462a7f_b

On board the International Space Station.

On board the International Space Station. 14482853169_1710c630cf_b

Guy Laliberte on board the International Space Station (2009).

Guy Laliberte on board the International Space Station (2009). 14482852809_c422039118_b

Life on the International Space Station.

Life on the International Space Station. 14482828440_c995c05b83_b


Privacy overview.

International Space Station

Nasa launches new app to see the international space station.

Avatar for Derek Wise

On Thursday, NASA launched a new app to make it easier than ever to spot the International Space Station in the night sky. NASA has long operated the Spot the Station website , but its new app, available on both iPhone and Android , brings augmented reality features and a handy interface to learn more about the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station is most visible in the early morning or evening at times when the sun is not up but its light is still hitting and reflecting off of the orbiting station. The app breaks down when the station will be over your location at the optimal time for it to shine brightest, including how long it will appear in the sky, how high it will appear, and the direction of travel.

“Even after 23 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station, it’s incredibly exciting to see the station when you look up at just the right moment,” said Robyn Gatens, International Space Station director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The orbiting laboratory that continues to provide so many unique, tangible benefits for humanity really isn’t that far out of reach.”

The app’s main page includes a countdown until the next possible sighting, as well as a globe and map of the ISS’s current position. There is also a full-page tracker view to follow the station’s location. You can also enable notifications to ensure you never miss a pass overhead.

The second page is perhaps the most useful of the new app, providing an augmented reality view to help you find the station in the sky. While apps like SkyView have long offered AR features to explore the night sky (and includes planets, stars, and constellations), NASA’s Spot the Station app is a totally free and ad-free option.

travel to international space station

The resources page ties into NASA’s extensive collection of writing available on . It pulls the latest news posts related to crew activity on the Space Station, offers extra reading about the ISS, its crew, and its history of international cooperation, and provides a fact sheet with some general information about the ISS.

Of course, you can also read more about the ISS and all things space over on our sister site, Space Explored . In just a few days, CRS-29 is set to launch more supplies to the International Space Station .

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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The ISS is constructed of many connected modules called “nodes” connecting the station together. The solar arrays are connected to the station with a long truss, which controls the space station’s temperature. The ISS also has robotic arms mounted outside the station.

How far away is the ISS?

The space station orbits Earth at an average altitude of 227 nautical miles/420 kilometers above Earth.

How big is the ISS?

The ISS measures 357 feet or 108 meters from end-to-end, which is about the size of an American football field. The space station has a mass of nearly 1 million pounds. When it comes to living in space, the ISS is larger than a six-bedroom house.

How fast does the ISS travel?

The ISS travels at about 17,500 miles/28,000 kilometers per hour. At this speed, the ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, which gives the crew 16 sunrises and sunsets every day. Since humans have been living and working on the space station, it has orbited Earth tens of thousands of times.

How old is the ISS? How long has it been operational?

Plans for the ISS first began 36 years ago when President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to develop a permanently internationally crewed space station. Over 20 years ago, in 1998, the first modules of the ISS were launched into space. Now in November 2020, the ISS will celebrate 20 years of humankind permanently occupying the space station.

How many countries are involved in the International Space Station?

The partnership of five space agencies representing 15 countries provide for and operate the ISS. These countries include the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the participating countries of the European Space Agency.

How was the ISS built?

Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, STS-114 mission specialist, is anchored to the extended ISS’s Canadarm-2 during a spacewalk to repair the Control moment Gyroscopes.

Constructing the ISS was a joint mission over the course of 13 years by many countries including the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe. Different modules of the ISS were constructed on Earth by thousands of engineers and launched by Russia’s Proton rocket and the United States’ space shuttles.

Fun Fact: Space shuttle Atlantis on display at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex delivered the U.S. laboratory module Destiny along with many other vital components.

Who is on the ISS?

As of mid-October 2020, six astronauts are aboard the ISS. Keep up to date with who is on the station at NASA ISS webpage . Four astronauts are preparing to launch soon on a SpaceX Crew Dragon, including NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Learn more about this launch and other upcoming launches on the launch calendar .

How long do astronauts stay on the ISS?

Expedition 42 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) prepares her dinner.

The average mission length for an astronaut is six months or 182 days, but the amount of time varies based on their mission.

Who has been on the ISS the longest?

Astronaut Scott Kelly holds the record for the longest single spaceflight at 340 days. For the longest cumulative days in space, astronaut Peggy Whitson holds the record at a total of 665 days.

Fun Fact: Astronaut Scott Kelly is one of the 2020 Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees. Visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame to learn more about this prestigious honor.

How many people have been on the ISS?

A total of 240 astronauts from 19 different countries have been aboard the ISS.

How many people can be on the ISS at one time?

The ISS is designed to support a crew of six people at one time.

What do astronauts do on the ISS?

An astronaut's primary job while on the space station is to conduct scientific experiments and maintain the space station. When not working, astronauts do a lot of the same things we do on Earth. Astronauts also complete a two-hour daily exercise program to remain fit. They eat a variety of foods, although some of it has to be rehydrated. When astronauts are ready to sleep, they stay in special sleep bags secured to the ways of their crew quarters.

Fun Fact: The Space Shuttle Atlantis ® exhibit contains the ISS: Triumph of Technology section that contains real space-flown artifacts from the ISS.

How do astronauts use the restroom on the ISS?

How many spacewalks have been done on the ISS?

In order to maintain and upgrade the ISS, over 227 spacewalks have been completed.

How many experiments have been conducted?

More than 2,800 experiments have been conducted so far.

Fun Fact: Part of one such experiment was conducted here at the visitor complex’s Mars Base 1 botany lab, to learn how microgravity affected the growth of tomatoes.

What research is being done on the ISS?

Over the years, many activities and research projects have been completed. For example, advances have been made in saliva testing to detect active viruses which allows for faster, less-invasive testing. Additionally, over 500 microgravity protein crystal-growth investigations have been conducted. This research helps find better treatments for diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy.

How will the ISS help us get to the Moon again?

Distant view of the Moon over Earth limb taken by the Expedition 37 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). An ISS solar array is also visible.

The ever-growing body of research that has been conducted on the ISS has given many insights into the needs of future lunar explorers. NASA’s next step for space exploration is to set up a permanent base for humans to live on the Moon – the long duration human spaceflight aboard the ISS has provided many answers on how that will happen. The ISS has led to advances in spacesuit design, experience on spacewalks and the creation of strong meteorite protection.

Still have more questions? Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to explore the story of NASA, from the first rocket launches to the Apollo program to the International Space Station. Learn about the pioneers of space exploration at Heroes & Legends who proved that humans could exist in space, before humankind ever considered living among the stars. Visit Space Shuttle Atlantis ® to see how the Space Shuttle Program brought new modules, supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station.

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NASA's new app 'Spot the Station' gives you the chance to track the ISS live

The International Space Station is visible at dawn or dusk, and opportunities range from once a month to several a week depending on its orbit.

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travel to international space station

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HARTFORD, Conn — From the Starlink satellites to the International Space Station , what we can see floating by in space seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.

Now there’s a new way to keep track, through a must-have app for sky watchers.

The International Space Station has been continuously occupied for 23 years.  Every 24 hours, it makes 16 orbits of the earth, often passing over our heads.

Now, you can be the first in the know, through NASA’s new app.

It’s called Spot the Station, available for both iOS  and Android .

Plug in your location, and you’re able to get notifications when the space station is visible overhead.

Sign up for the FOX61 newsletters:  Morning Forecast, Morning Headlines, Evening Headlines  

There’s a live tracking map to show where the space station is right now, and its projected course as it orbits Earth at 17,500 mph, about 250 miles above Earth’s surface.

There’s also an augmented reality feature, letting you point your phone up in the night sky to find the ISS’ position.

Plus, it’s free of cost, developed by NASA with the goal of bringing science to more people.

The space station is visible because it reflects the light of the sun. It can only be seen at dawn or dusk. So, chances to spot the station range from several a week to only once a month, depending on the timing of its orbit and the sunrise or sunset.

Related Articles

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  • Four astronauts return to Earth in SpaceX capsule to wrap up six-month station mission
  • NASA astronaut Frank Rubio lands on Earth after being stuck in space for a year

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It could be a good week for viewing the International Space Station. Here's where to look

The International Space Station travels over us at all different times of day. But this week, it'll be above the Coachella Valley's horizon — for a few minutes at a time — on most evenings, making it a good time to try to catch a glimpse.

That begins on Monday, when the station could be viewable to the southwest for two minutes, starting at 6:27 p.m.

Keep in mind, the mountains that surround the valley could make it a challenge some nights. NASA's website shows Thursday might be the best night for viewing. That evening, the station will reach a height of 70 degrees above the horizon (90 degrees is directly overhead).

The station, a multinational science lab that's been in orbit for over 20 years, is about 250 miles above Earth and orbits us at 17,500 mph , circling the planet every 90 minutes.

The International Space Station.

So it's in our sky frequently, but often during the day when it's not visible because of the sun. The best times for space station viewing, NASA says , are dawn and dusk.

You can see upcoming sightings from your location with NASA's website, , and a new Spot the Station app for iPhones and Android phones.

Here's when it'll be above the horizon this week:

Monday, 6:27 p.m. Above horizon for two minutes starting in southwest. Maximum height above horizon: 37 degrees

Tuesday, 5:40 p.m. Above horizon for four minutes starting in south-southwest. Maximum height above horizon: 30 degrees

Wed Nov 15, 6:29 p.m. Above horizon for three minutes starting in west-southwest. Maximum height above horizon: 37 degrees

Thu Nov 16, 5:41 p.m. Above horizon for six minutes starting in southwest. Maximum height above horizon: 70 degrees

Fri Nov 17, 6:31 p.m. Above horizon for three minutes starting in west-northwest. Maximum height above horizon: 15 degrees

Sat Nov 18, 5:42 p.m. Above horizon for five minutes starting in west. Maximum height above horizon: 23 degrees

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: When to view International Space Station from Palm Springs area

travel to international space station


How long does it take to get to the ISS from Earth?

Last Updated: February 25, 2022

For years, we have looked up to the stars and dreamed of exploring the cosmos around us. Once considered a fantasy, the International Space Station has been a reality for more than 20 years now, thanks to the collaboration of NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and the CSA (Canada). 

In this article, we will take a look at how long it takes to travel to the Internal Space Station from Earth, as well as all of the intricacies involved in such a difficult journey.

How far away is the space station?

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest man-made structure ever to orbit the Earth, and it can be seen at night as a slow-moving little point of light. Although we can see it with the naked eye, we should not overlook the fact that it is located very far away in the sky. The ISS orbits Earth at an altitude of about 253 miles (408 km). 

Although the ISS is gradually losing altitude because of drag from the atmosphere, its orbital height is corrected with burns every 2 months. As we will see later in this article, the height and speed of the ISS play an important role in the time needed to reach the space station from Earth.

How long does it take to travel to the space station?

From launch to docking, a spacecraft typically takes between 6 hours and 3 days to travel from Earth to the International Space Station. The quickest travel time so far has been an amazing record-breaking 3 hours and 3-minute flight by the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-17 carrying Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. 

Orbiting Earth every 90 minutes at a velocity of 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometres) per hour, you can imagine that reaching the ISS could seem like a momentous task just within itself and the timing for arrival is essential. Travel to the spectacular modular space station varies, all depending on the various capabilities and technologies. However, through the brilliant minds of today’s top scientists and engineers, the journey today is much smoother than it once was. 

The journey to the space station is a carefully choreographed sequence of rocket burns or engine firings, that must be precisely timed to achieve the correct orbit. To help you make sense of the time and effort it takes to reach the ISS from Earth, we’ve created the below timeline explaining a rocket’s journey to the ISS.

The liftoff phase of a rocket is the point in its launch when it leaves the ground and begins to ascend into space. The engines fire up, providing thrust that pushes the rocket upwards. 

2. Orbit activation

The orbit activation phase of a rocket is the process of transitioning from a suborbital trajectory to an orbital trajectory. The orbit activation phase typically lasts for around two minutes. However, the exact duration will vary depending on the specific rocket and its payload.

3. Phasing burns

This phase is used to fine-tune the rocket’s trajectory and ensure it reaches its destination safely. During phasing burns, the engines are fired in short bursts to make small adjustments to the rocket’s course.

4. Approach initiation

The approach initiation phase of a shuttle going to the ISS is an important step to ensure safe arrival. This phase begins once the shuttle has reached its orbit and is about to start its journey to the space station. The rendezvous timeline is based on the space station’s orbit, so it’s important to make sure that both orbits are accurately calculated.

5. Proximity operation

The proximity operations phase of a shuttle going to the ISS is the most dangerous part of the mission. The proximity operations are very risky because there is a danger of collision between the shuttle and the ISS. To avoid this, the shuttle spacecraft must be carefully manoeuvred into position by the pilot.

6. Docking & pressurization

Docking is the process of connecting two spacecraft together. The shuttle connects to the ISS by using a docking port, which is like a giant plug that fits into a socket on the ISS. Once the two spacecraft are connected, the pressurization process begins. Pressurization is the process of increasing the air pressure inside a spacecraft. This allows the astronauts to safely enter the ISS.

How long does it take SpaceX to get to the space station?

The Soyuz spacecraft was once the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS from Earth. That has changed thanks to SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace company. SpaceX used to fly uncrewed spacecraft to deliver cargo (supplies, food, pieces of equipment, etc) to the ISS since 2012. However, since 2020, SpaceX has been transporting people to the ISS using their flagship “Crew Dragon” spacecraft.

So far, SpaceX has successfully completed three operational missions as part of the Commercial Crew Program. Those three missions consisted of sending 4 people to the International Space Station. 

  • SpaceX Crew-1 reached the ISS in 28 hours
  • SpaceX Crew-2 docked to the ISS after a 24 hours journey.
  • SpaceX Crew-3 arrived at the ISS after just 21 hours.

SpaceX has managed to reduce the duration of their spaceflights with each of the last 3 missions and it would not be surprising to see them achieve even shorter journeys to the space station. Time will tell!

dragon crew spaceflight to the ISS timeline

Step by step flight plan of the dragon crew spacecraft to the international space station. Image credit: SpaceX

Tom Urbain

Written by Tom Urbain

Space exploration has been a fascinating subject for me since a very young age. As a child, astronauts were my heroes, so it was inevitable that a part of my website would be dedicated to astronauts and their space missions.

Explore more astronaut stories 👨‍🚀

This page is part of our collection of articles about astronauts . If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.

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Where is the ISS now? How to find it in the night sky

You could see the station a few times within a few hours, granted you are on the night side of the planet and you know where to look.

astronaut in space waving

Fun Facts About Astronauts

Over the last few decades, only a few people have had the chance to go into space. Here are some facts about astronauts that may amaze you!

an astronaut being carried after landing

Why astronauts can't walk after landing on earth?

There are three main reasons why astronauts may have difficulty walking on land after spending so much time in a microgravity environment.


How To Spot The International Space Station Using NASA's New App

Posted: November 9, 2023 | Last updated: November 9, 2023

If you're out on a cloudless evening and you look up at the sky at just the right time, you might be lucky enough to spot the International Space Station passing overhead. You can see it even with the naked eye as a streak of light moving across the sky. However, due to the speed of its movement and the fact it is only viewable at certain times, it's not easy to predict when it will be visible. To help with this, NASA has released a new app (not to mention the new streaming service ) that will help amateur astronomers and curious skywatchers locate the space station and spot it when it passes over them.

The Spot the Station app is available for both iOS and Android ; it lets you set your location and see when the station will be visible. It shows when the next sighting of the station from your location will be, along with a countdown, and a map and a globe showing the station's position over the Earth.

In addition to the station-tracking features, the app also offers information and news about what's going on at the International Space Station, such as upcoming spacewalks, the research being done on board, and upcoming arrivals and departures of the spacecraft that bring crew members or cargo to and from the station from Earth. The app was released just ahead of the 25th anniversary of station operation, marked on December 6, 1998, when the two modules Zarya and Unity were joined.

Read more: The 10 Most Legendary Planes Of WW2 Ranked From Worst To Best

How To Spot The International Space Station

The space station passes so quickly through the sky because it orbits the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour. It is visible as a dot because it reflects sunlight, but during the day the sky is too bright for it to be seen. So you will only be able to spot it at dawn or dusk when there is enough sunlight for it to reflect but not so much that the sky drowns it out. How often you'll be able to catch it from Earth depends on when it is dark where you are and when the station happens to pass over you, which NASA  says can vary from several times a week to just once a month.

The app helps to spot the station using an augmented reality interface with a compass to help you point in the right direction to see the station, and also offers notifications for when viewing opportunities will be possible based on your location. If you snap a photo or video of the station using your phone, there's also a way to share your images using the app.

"Even after 23 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station, it's incredibly exciting to see the station when you look up at just the right moment," said Robyn Gatens, NASA's International Space Station director. "The orbiting laboratory that continues to provide so many unique, tangible benefits for humanity really isn't that far out of reach."

Read the original article on SlashGear .

international space station

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How Fast Does the ISS Travel?

How Fast Does the ISS Travel?

International Space Station (ISS) is a unique high-tech spacecraft launched in 1998 on the initiative of the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency’s member countries. It is an outpost of humanity in space and a powerful research centre that helps us expand our knowledge about the Earth and other celestial bodies to make our future safer and more comfortable. This huge spaceship has been flying around the Earth for 24 years, and today we will answer the question that interests many, how fast does the ISS travel and what it depends on?

How fast does the ISS travel per hour?

The space station, like most artificial satellites, moves in low Earth orbit, about 250 miles high, so the speed at which it does this is called orbital. But what is ISS orbital speed? National space agencies give an approximate figure of 17,700 mph.

It’s barely possible to imagine how fast is ISS. In one day, it flies about 700 thousand kilometres, which is approximately twice the distance from the Earth to the Moon! One flight around the Earth takes a little more than an hour and a half, and the station makes 16 orbits per day. One can only imagine the astronauts’ impressions because they can meet the dawn sixteen times a day or 5,840 times a year.

How Fast Does the ISS Travel in a Second?

How Fast Does the ISS Move in a Second?How Fast Does the ISS Move in a Second?

The speed of ISS is the same as the first orbital velocity, which is 7.9 km/s. For a better demonstration of its moving speed, the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet , who twice participated in expeditions to the ISS, took a picture of the Earth with a shutter speed of 30 seconds, clearly demonstrating how fast is the ISS moving. The picture above shows part of the orbital complex and our planet as a canvas of elongated, blurry lines formed by lights on the Earth’s surface.

Why is ISS speed so high?

The farther you are from the Earth, the less the planet’s gravity pulls you, and you can move more slowly. But the ISS is relatively close to our planet, so Earth’s gravity affects it at about 90% of the pull from Earth, so it needs to move very quickly to stay up.

The speed must be sufficient to compensate for gravity by centrifugal force and keep the station at a given height. Otherwise, it would fall to the earth’s surface.

What makes the ISS move so fast?

When the first block of the ISS, Zarya, was launched to LEO, it was immediately accelerated to the required speed of 17700 mph. This speed was further maintained by the craft that delivered the rest of the modules for assembly, and later by the crew and supply missions. Each docking gives the station an extra boost. This is a repetitive process that prevents the station from changing its orbit to critical values. This also helps adjust the ISS speed to make sure it does not move too far from the Earth.

Do ISS Astronauts Feel the Speed?

Now, you have an idea of how fast the International Space Station travels. Note, however, that it is the acceleration we perceive, not the actual speed. From your plane travel experience, you should know that the higher the speed, the higher the g-forces that affect the crew and passengers. It doesn’t work this same way in space. And it’s not even about weightlessness and less free fall acceleration than on Earth. It’s about gravitational forces.

In orbit, astronauts are subjected to two accelerations of the same magnitude: centripetal (towards the Earth) and centrifugal. They completely balance each other, so when the station reaches a constant orbital speed, the astronauts do not feel any movement at all. When the station changes the orbit height, one can feel small overloads, but they do not cause much discomfort.

What Keeps the ISS Moving?

We know that ISS moves at a speed that prevents it from falling onto the planet that attracts it. The addition of the velocity and gravity vectors determines its radial trajectory, and the height determines its speed. This balance is called a stable orbit. And if there are no outside factors to affect this orbit, this speed can persist indefinitely.

The height of the ISS orbit was not chosen by chance. Rising any higher is impossible because the astronauts will be exposed to high doses of space radiation. Descending is not an option either because, at low altitudes, the station will slow down on the atmosphere. Engineers took into account the station mass (400 tons) and calculated the optimal parameters of its orbit so that it could act as a satellite of the Earth for a long time.

Is the ISS moving at a constant speed?

There is no exact answer to this question. ISS speed is a non-constant value, as it is determined by the orbit height. The latter varies from 278 to 460 kilometres. Why is this happening? The fact is that it is affected by the gravity of the Moon, the Sun, comets, and other surrounding space objects. Because of this, the orbit gradually changes parameters, including altitude and, consequently, speed. As you can see, how fast does the ISS travel becomes a variable – there’s no single correct value.

In addition, there is a possibility of collision with space debris and meteorites that can damage the ship’s coating. ISS astronauts occasionally perform an orbital adjustment manoeuvre. They do this with the help of orientation motors, low-power pneumatic installations that “correct” the station’s position literally by a centimetre.

Point of no return

Every mechanism has a resource that eventually runs out — even one as big and complex as the International Space Station. This spacecraft has already served 24 years in orbit, more than all previous space stations , and its service life is coming to an end.

What happens next? The ISS is scheduled to fall into the Pacific Ocean in 2031 . By 2028, work at the station should be stopped, astronauts and some equipment will be evacuated, and it will turn into a drifting block of metal and composite. Gradually ISS speed will start to decline, the station will lose altitude and eventually de-orbit and fall to Earth. Part of the spacecraft will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, and what remains, approximately half, will fall into a deserted region of the Pacific Ocean. But humanity will not be left without an outpost in space. And the current ISS will definitely be replaced by a new one. The question in this case isn’t how fast does the ISS travel, but how quickly can the ISS be replaced.

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An amateur rocket enthusiast with a keen interest in all space-related activity. Looking forward to the day when the UK starts launching rockets into space and I'm able to watch launches (from a safe distance of course).

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8 space-themed trips for families, from astronomy stays to NASA space launches

For kids inspired by India’s landing on the moon, here are eight destinations where families can explore the stars, space and beyond.

If India’s landing on the moon this August has ignited or renewed your family’s fascination with the stars and space exploration, there are countless ways to indulge this interest while travelling. Museums, reserves, festivals and historical attractions all over the world celebrate the secrets of the universe, while autumn and winter skies also provide the best opportunities for stargazing. Here are eight trip ideas to inspire budding astronauts and astronomers.

1. Kennedy Space Center , Florida

Organised into chronologically grouped attractions and tours based around mission launches from the US Space Program, the NASA-operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a must for aspiring astronauts and space-lovers. Hands-on experiences range from live presentations delivered by astronauts to the new Astronaut Training Experience Center. At the latter, children aged 10 to 17 (with an accompanying adult) can experience the sensation of spacewalking and navigating Martian terrain.

Top tip:  The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the closest place from which the public can view rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, for which it provides seating stands and commentary; check the website for scheduled launches to plan your trip around.

2.  North York Moors, Yorkshire

One of only 21 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world — designated as such because of their pristine skies — this lovely part of England is host to one of the UK’s family-friendly National Parks Dark Skies festivals. Well timed to coincide with the latter part of autumn half term in England (27 October to 5 November 2023), the North York Moors Dark Skies Fringe Festival includes bat-box making, sessions in night navigation, evenings with winter owls and moonlit coastal walks.

Top tip:  If you miss this one, plan ahead for the bigger North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales Dark Skies Festival in February 2024. 

3. Pic du Midi, French Pyrenees

There are few observatories in the world where you can eat a delicious dinner, spend the night stargazing before retiring to a cosy cabin, then get up to watch the sun rise above the clouds. Getting to the Pic du Midi Observatory  from Toulouse is also an adventure in its own right, involving a ride on two cable-cars up to 9,440ft. Once there, guided astronomy sessions help kids discover Saturn and its rings, clusters of stars in deep space and solar flares on the Sun’s surface via some of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

Top tip: If you’re flying to France, wait at least a day before travelling up to Pic du Midi, to avoid the possibility of altitude sickness.

4. Mount Teide, Tenerife

The most popular of the Canary Islands, there’s more to Tenerife than beaches and whale-watching. It’s also home to the largest solar observatory in the world, sitting at an altitude of 7,840ft on Spain’s highest mountain, the Teide volcano. Ride the cable-car up for a scientist-led tour, which includes the chance to observe the Sun through portable solar telescopes. The special family visits include a fascinating 90-minute workshop exploring how observatory astrophysicists carry out their research.

Top tip: For a longer immersion, book a 6.5-hour night tour with Volcano Teide Experience — a guided hike up through Teide National Park, spotting bats and volcano cones, stopping for a picnic before a star-gazing session.

5.  Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

A key stop on India’s classic ‘Golden Triangle’ itinerary alongside the Taj Mahal, the colourful city of Jaipur is home to UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar — a unique astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century, featuring about 20 large-scale instruments that look like something straight out of a surrealist painting. Set in the heart of Rajasthan’s state capital, kids can clamber around the sculpture-like installations in an open-air setting; a highlight is the world’s largest sundial.

Top tip: Visit at midday, when the position of the sun vertically ahead makes it easier to interpret the readings of each instrument.

6.  Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

One of Cheshire’s biggest attractions is the University of Manchester’s UNESCO-listed, world-leading science research institute, centred around the Grade I-listed Lovell Telescope. There’s lots of interactive fun and learning across several indoor exhibition spaces, including new permanent displays about the history of Jodrell Bank , the Clockwork Orrery working model of the solar system and its hands-on science displays in the Space Pavilion. It also has a programme of family-friendly events, including the annual summer Bluedot festival, which brings together live music and science workshops.

Top tip: Bring a picnic to make the most of 35 acres of grounds including an arboretum, ponds, guided pathways, a playground and outdoor exhibits such as a pair of giant ‘whispering dishes’ for kids to call between. 

 7.  Atacama Desert, Chile

Home to one of the most powerful astronomical tools in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope, this arid northern region of Chile has some of the globe’s clearest skies and best star-gazing potential. Adventurous families can take night tours from San Pedro that use high-end computerised, hand-held telescopes to scan the high-altitude skies, with guides who explain how the ancient people of this region related to the cosmos.

Top tip: Plan your trip to avoid the period around the full moon — there are five nights a month when it’s typically so bright that star-gazing tours can’t run.

8.  EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Florida 

One of four Disney theme parks in Orlando, EPCOT  — which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow — celebrates technological innovation, futurism and the universe. At the Mission: SPACE pavilion, for example, the main attraction is two rides that simulate what an astronaut might experience aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Mars. Afterwards, families can refuel in the pavilion’s Space 220 restaurant, modelled after a space station, with themed dishes such as starry calamari. In 2022, the park also opened an area called Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind with characters from the film, the park’s first rollercoaster and entertainment bringing space travel to life.

Top tip:  At Mission: SPACE,   kids looking for a gentler experience should choose the Green Mission simulator; Orange Mission offers a more heart-pumping, intense ride.

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Meet the adventurer: astronaut tim peake, discover destinations behind disney's much-loved movies, seven of the best theme parks in europe for families, it looked like a bizarre alignment of meteors. it was something else..

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Station visitors.

Over 260 individuals representing 20 countries and five International Partners have visited the International Space Station.

Quick Facts

The first private astronaut mission to the station was Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission-1 and carried four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour.

The first private astronaut mission to the station was Axiom Space's Axiom Mission-1 and carried four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour.

13 private visitors, known as spaceflight participants, from seven countries have visited the orbital outpost.

13 private visitors, known as spaceflight participants, from seven countries have visited the orbital outpost.

Station crew members have flown to the station on the space shuttle, the Soyuz crew ship and the SpaceX Dragon.

Station crew members have flown to the station on the space shuttle, the Soyuz crew ship and the SpaceX Dragon.

United States – 163 visitors

  • Joseph M. Acaba  – 3 visits
  • Scott D. Altman
  • Clayton C. Anderson  – 2 visits
  • Anousheh Ansari (Space Flight Participant)
  • Dominic A. Antonelli  – 2 visits
  • Lee J. Archambault  – 2 visits
  • Richard R. Arnold  – 2 visits
  • Jeffrey S. Ashby  – 2 visits
  • Serena Auñón-Chancellor
  • Michael R. Barratt  – 2 visits
  • Kayla Barron
  • Daniel T. Barry  – 2 visits
  • Robert L. Behnken  – 3 visits
  • Michael J. Bloomfield  – 2 visits
  • Eric A. Boe  – 2 visits
  • Stephen G. Bowen  – 4 visits
  • Kenneth D. Bowersox
  • Randolph J. Bresnik  – 2 visits
  • Daniel C. Burbank  – 3 visits
  • Daniel W. Bursch
  • Robert D. Cabana
  • Tracy E. Caldwell-Dyson  – 2 visits
  • Charles J. Camarda
  • Josh Cassada
  • Christopher J. Cassidy  – 3 visits
  • Gregory E. Chamitoff  – 2 visits
  • Franklin R. Chang-Diaz
  • Leroy Chiao  – 2 visits
  • Kenneth D. Cockrell  – 2 visits
  • Catherine G. Coleman
  • Eileen M. Collins
  • Larry Connor (Axiom Space)
  • Timothy J. Creamer
  • Frank L. Culbertson
  • Robert L. Curbeam  – 2 visits
  • Nancy J. Currie
  • Benjamin A. Drew  2 visits
  • Brian Duffy
  • James P. Dutton
  • Christopher J. Ferguson  – 3 visits
  • Andrew J. Feustel  – 2 visits
  • Michael Fincke  – 3 visits
  • Jack Fischer
  • Michael Foale
  • Kevin A. Ford  – 2 visits
  • Michael J. Foreman  – 2 visits
  • Patrick G. Forrester  – 3 visits
  • Michael E. Fossum  – 3 visits
  • Stephen N. Frick  – 2 visits
  • Ronald J. Garan  – 2 visits
  • Richard A. Garriott (Space Flight Participant)
  • Michael L. Gernhardt
  • Victor Glover
  • Linda M. Godwin
  • Michael T. Good
  • Dominic L. Gorie  – 2 visits
  • Nick Hague
  • James D. Halsell
  • Kenneth Ham  – 2 visits
  • Susan Helms  – 2 visits
  • José M. Hernández
  • John Herrington
  • Joan Higginbotham
  • Kathryn P. Hire
  • Charles O. Hobaugh  – 3 visits
  • Warren “Woody” Hoburg
  • Michael S. Hopkins  2 visits
  • Scott J. Horowitz  – 2 visits
  • Douglas G. Hurley  – 3 visits
  • Rick Husband
  • Marsha S. Ivins
  • Tamara E. Jernigan
  • Brent W. Jett  – 2 visits
  • Gregory H. Johnson  – 2 visits
  • Thomas D. Jones
  • Janet L. Kavandi
  • James M. Kelly  – 2 visits
  • Mark E. Kelly  – 4 visits
  • Scott J. Kelly  – 3 visits
  • Robert S. Kimbrough  – 3 visits
  • Christina Koch
  • Timothy L. Kopra  – 2 visits
  • Wendy B. Lawrence
  • Kjell Lindgren  – 2 visits
  • Steven W. Lindsey  – 3 visits
  • Richard M. Linnehan
  • Paul S. Lockhart  – 2 visits
  • Michael E. Lopez-Alegria  – 4 visits
  • Stanley G. Love
  • Edward T. Lu  2 visits
  • Sandra H. Magnus  – 3 visits
  • Nicole Mann
  • Thomas H. Marshburn  – 3 visits
  • Richard A. Mastracchio  – 4 visits
  • Megan McArthur
  • William S. McArthur  2 visits
  • Anne McClain
  • Jessica Meir
  • Pamela A. Melroy  – 3 visits
  • Leland D. Melvin  – 2 visits
  • Dorothy M. Metcalf-Lindenburger
  • Jasmin Moghbeli
  • Lee M. E. Morin
  • Andrew Morgan
  • Barbara R. Morgan
  • James H. Newman
  • Carlos I. Noriega
  • Lisa M. Nowak
  • Karen L. Nyberg  – 2 visits
  • Ellen L. Ochoa  – 2 visits
  • William A. Oefelein
  • Loarl O’Hara
  • John D. Olivas  – 2 visits
  • Gregory H. Olsen (Space Flight Participant)
  • Scott E. Parazynski  – 2 visits
  • Nicholas J.M. Patrick  – 2 visits
  • Donald R. Pettit  – 3 visits
  • John L. Phillips  – 3 visits
  • Alan G. Poindexter  – 2 visits
  • Mark L. Polansky  – 3 visits
  • James F. Reilly  – 2 visits
  • Garrett E. Reisman  – 2 visits
  • Paul W. Richards
  • Stephen K. Robinson  – 2 visits
  • Kent V. Rominger  – 2 visits
  • Jerry L. Ross  – 2 visits
  • Kate Rubins  2 visits
  • Frank Rubio
  • Robert L. Satcher
  • Piers J. Sellers  – 3 visits
  • William M. Shepherd
  • John Shoffner
  • Charles Simonyi (Space Flight Participant) 2 visits
  • Steven L s . Smith
  • Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper  – 2 visits
  • Nicole P. Stott  – 2 visits
  • Frederick W. Sturckow  – 4 visits
  • Steven R. Swanson  – 3 visits
  • Daniel M. Tani  – 2 visits
  • Joseph R. Tanner  – 2 visits
  • Andrew S.W. Thomas  – 2 visits
  • Scott Tingle
  • Dennis A. Tito (Space Flight Participant)
  • Mark Vande Hei  2 visits
  • Terry W. Virts  2 visits
  • James S. Voss  2 visits
  • Rex J. Walheim  – 3 visits
  • Shannon Walker  2 visits
  • Carl E. Walz
  • Jessica Watkins
  • Mary E. Weber
  • James D. Wetherbee  – 2 visits
  • Douglas H. Wheelock  – 2 visits
  • Peggy A. Whitson  – 4 visits
  • Terrence W. Wilcutt
  • Jeffrey N. Williams  – 4 visits
  • Sunita L. Williams  – 2 visits
  • Barry E. Wilmore  – 2 visits
  • Stephanie D. Wilson  – 3 visits
  • G. Reid Wiseman
  • Peter J.K. Wisoff
  • David A. Wolf  – 2 visits
  • George D. Zamka  2 visits

Russia – 57 visitors

  • Viktor Afanasyev
  • Oleg Artemyev  – 3 visits
  • Yuri Baturin
  • Andrei Borisenko  – 2 visits
  • Konstantin Borisov
  • Nikolai Budarin
  • Nikolai Chub
  • Vladimir Dezhurov
  • Pyotr Dubrov
  • Andrey Fedyaev
  • Yuri Gidzenko  – 2 visits
  • Anatoli Ivanishin  – 3 visits
  • Aleksandr Kaleri  – 2 visits
  • Anna Kikina
  • Dmitri Kondratyev
  • Oleg Kononenko  – 4 visits
  • Mikhail Korniyenko  – 2 visits
  • Sergey Korsakov
  • Valery Korzun
  • Oleg Kotov  – 3 visits
  • Konstantin Kozeyev
  • Sergei Krikalev  – 3 visits
  • Sergey Kud-Sverchkov
  • Yuri Lonchakov  – 3 visits
  • Yuri Malenchenko  – 5 visits
  • Denis Matveev
  • Aleksandr Misurkin  – 3 visits
  • Boris Morukov
  • Talgat Musabayev
  • Oleg Novitskiy  – 3 visits
  • Yuri Onufrienko
  • Aleksey Ovchinin  – 2 visits
  • Gennady Padalka  – 4 visits
  • Yulia Peresild  (Space Flight Participant)
  • Dmitri Petelin
  • Sergey Prokopyev  – 2 visits
  • Sergei Revin
  • Roman Romanenko  – 2 visits
  • Sergey Ryazansky  – 2 visits
  • Sergey Ryzhikov  – 2 visits
  • Aleksandr Samokutyayev  – 2 visits
  • Yelena Serova
  • Yuri Shargin
  • Salizhan Sharipov
  • Klim Shipenko  (Space Flight Participant)
  • Anton Shkaplerov  – 4 visits
  • Oleg Skripochka  – 3 visits
  • Aleksandr Skvortsov  – 3 visits
  • Maksim Surayev  – 2 visits
  • Evgeny Tarelkin
  • Valery Tokarev  – 2 visits
  • Sergei Treshchev
  • Mikhail Tyurin  – 3 visits
  • Yury Usachev  – 2 visits
  • Ivan Vagner
  • Pavel Vinogradov  – 2 visits
  • Sergey Volkov  – 3 visits
  • Fyodor Yurchikhin  – 5 visits
  • Sergei Zalyotin

Japan – 11 visitors

  • Satoshi Furukawa  – 2 visits
  • Yozo Hirano – (Space Flight Participant)
  • Akihiko Hoshide  – 3 visits
  • Norishige Kanai
  • Yusaku Maezawa – (Space Flight Participant)
  • Soichi Noguchi  – 3 visits
  • Takuya Onishi
  • Koichi Wakata  – 4 visits
  • Naoko Yamazaki

Canada – 9 visitors

  • Marc Garneau
  • Chris Hadfield  – 2 visits
  • Guy Laliberté (Space Flight Participant)
  • Steve MacLean
  • Mark Pathy (Axiom Space)
  • Julie Payette  – 2 visits
  • David Saint-Jacques
  • Robert Thirsk
  • Dafydd Williams

Italy – 5 visitors

  • Samantha Cristoforetti  – 2 visits
  • Umberto Guidoni
  • Paolo Nespoli  – 3 visits
  • Luca Parmitano  – 2 visits
  • Roberto Vittori  – 3 visits

France – 4 visitors

  • Léopold Eyharts
  • Claudie Haigneré
  • Philippe Perrin
  • Thomas Pesquet  – 2 visits

Germany – 4 visitors

  • Alexander Gerst  – 2 visits
  • Matthias Maurer
  • Thomas Reiter
  • Hans Schlegel

Saudi Arabia – 2 visitors

  • Ali Alqarni
  • Rayyanah Barnawi

United Arab Emirates – 2 visitors

  • Hazzaa Ali Almansoori
  • Sultan Alneyadi

Belgium – 1 visitor

  • Frank De Winne  – 2 visits

Brazil – 1 visitor

  • Marcos Pontes

Denmark – 1 visitor

  • Andreas Mogensen  – 2 visits

Great Britain – 1 visitor

  • Timothy Peake

Israel – 1 visitor

  • Eytan Stibbe (Axiom Space)

Kazakhstan – 1 visitor

  • Aydyn Aimbetov

Malaysia – 1 visitor

  • Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor (Space Flight Participant)

Netherlands – 1 visitor

  • André Kuipers  – 2 visits

South Africa – 1 visitor

  • Mark Shuttleworth (Space Flight Participant)

South Korea – 1 visitor

  • Yi So-Yeon (Space Flight Participant)

Spain – 1 visitor

  • Pedro Duque

Sweden – 1 visitor

  • Christer Fuglesang  – 2 visits

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Japan astronauts Takuya Onishi, Kimiya Yui to leave for ISS around 2025

November 14, 2023 (Mainichi Japan)

travel to international space station

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese astronauts Takuya Onishi and Kimiya Yui will travel separately to the International Space Station on long-term missions around 2025, the country's space agency said Tuesday.

Yui, 53, was initially scheduled to travel around 2024, but his departure has been delayed by a year. Both will be staying for six months and making their second space flights, with Yui having resided at the ISS between July and December 2015 and Onishi, 47, between July and October 2016, according to the agency.

Compatriot Satoshi Furukawa, 59, is currently stationed at the orbiting laboratory, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Onishi, a Tokyo native and former pilot at All Nippon Airways, and Yui, a Nagano Prefecture native and former Japanese Air Self-Defense Force pilot, are expected to lift off in a commercial spacecraft in a flight arranged by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The two astronauts will engage in the maintenance of facilities, including Japan's experiment module Kibo, and in scientific experiments at the ISS, JAXA said.

Onishi and Yui have a variety of space experience, with each having captured an automated cargo spacecraft with a robotic arm to help it dock with the ISS.

"I hope (they will) fly into space and obtain new knowledge and experience," science and technology minister Masahito Moriyama told a press conference Tuesday.

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The volcanic Nishinoshima Island is seen in Ogasawara, Tokyo, in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft on Oct. 30, 2023, about 10 years after a series of eruptions began. Intermittent volcanic activity has caused the island to grow so large that the part of the old island that existed before the eruption is now completely covered by lava from the new island. (Mainichi/Koichiro Tezuka)

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travel to international space station

This photograph illustrates how quickly the International Space Station orbits Earth

The International Space Station (ISS) moves fast. Very fast. The modular space station has an orbital speed of 7.66 kilometers per second, which is roughly 17,100 mph. It takes the ISS a mere 92.68 minutes to orbit Earth, meaning it goes around Earth nearly 16 times per day. It's hard to conceptualize that amount of speed, but French astronaut Thomas Pesquet is aboard the ISS now and wanted to help those of us on terra firma understand the speed at which the ISS moves.

Pesquet has been experimenting with different photographic techniques to show the ISS's speed. He recently shared an image shot with a 30-second exposure that shows ISS stationary in the frame while the Earth's surface streaks behind in the background.

A picture from some tryouts of a photo technique I’ve been experimenting with. It gives the impression of the speed we fly at (28 800 km/h!). This image is one 30-second exposure of Earth at night. The trails you see are stars, and city lights. More to come! 📷🤓 #MissionAlpha — Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) June 13, 2021

During the 30 second exposure, the ISS traveled about 235km. Despite the speed of the space station, Pesquet says that the crew doesn't have the impression of moving that quickly due to the orbital path's distance from Earth. The ISS perigee altitude is 418km (259.7mi) and its apogee altitude is 422km (262.2mi).

With the ISS orbiting Earth so many times during the day, there are numerous opportunities to spot the station as it orbits Earth. NASA has set up a dedicated alert system ( to let you know when the ISS is passing overhead. You can view the ISS with the naked eye, no need for a telescope.

Pesquet is very active aboard the ISS and regularly posts new photos on Twitter . You can also stay to date with all the activities on the ISS on Twitter . NASA regularly posts videos from the ISS on YouTube .

That's a lot of lens distortion to make the flat earth look curved...

‘Space ain’t no place to raise your kids…’ Elton John’s wise insight seems just as valuable a piece of advice now as it did in the Seventies. Floating, naughty, inescapable toddlers!

Franz Weber

Living in space and raising kids is almost impossible for two reasons: 1. we are used to have our bedrooms facing north and the living room facing south. How shall that be accomplished while you rotating around the earth 16 times per day? 2. non smoking and smoking astronauts tend to start a fight after a while.


@Confusedabit: Space is actually as quiet as it gets. No air means no sound!

Mph??? 2021 Please leave medevial mode.


Hours have been measured since 1600 BC.

Nothing wrong w miles per hour.

Philip Eihuyar

I was surprised at this. I had previously thought one orbit took 2 and a half hours. - Just as a comparison of gravity vs electromagnetic force, (same principle) an electron orbits the nucleus at a rate of 3000 trillion times per second.

The electron does not orbit the nucleus at all, that is just an idea Rutherford had because there was no quantum mechanics at the time.

I guess the comparison between the forces still stands, as the electron would have to orbit at that speed if it was a classical particle, but then again this is more of a comparison between 1/r^2 for vastly different r

I assume the mathematicians have figured this out, but I wouldn't want to hit any cosmic debris or space junk at 17,000 mph.


With all the junk in orbit, that's a fear I have. One bolt. No, something the size of a paperclip could go through and through parts of the ISS. Hopefully no person is in the way. Then they have to place a patch quickly over the hole!

When do the flat-earthers comment?

Are those the Pentax owners?

Nah, Pentaxians are much to down-to-earth for that sort of nonsense. Sigma Fp owners though…

Can't be Pentax owners ding the falt-earthers comments, they have "astrotracer" mode.

@Skyscape: If the Earth was really flat, cats would have knocked everything off it by now…


No not pentax owners ...flatwits have Nikon P1000s so they can prove the earth is flat by zooming in ships that are not over the horizon

A refreshing and unique perspective on manned artificial satellites and the view from space. Nice!

I guess all that motion blur could have been avoided if Pesquet had the sense to use a very fast lens to photograph the dark side of the Earth 😎

… but sometimes you want to show motion.


Sure, a Leica can do in a pinch.

Speed in space is a different animal than on Earth, there is no friction to deal with. It is all about how long you can burn your fuel for.... on Earth you reach terminal velocity, you do not in space, you keep on going faster.

Indeed, we can also take into consideration the earth's speed of around 30km/s around the sun. So we all move quite fast :) And we can continue combining it with the speed of the solar system of some 200km/s around the Galaxy's core.

Anyway, just wanted to agree with you and point out that speed outside of earth's atmosphere, while pretty hard to fully comprehend, is at other scales. And 7km/s is just "slow driving, kids around" :)

. > It's all about how long you can burn your fuel for.... > on Earth you reach terminal velocity, you do not in > space, you keep on going faster.

No, even in space, regardless of the quantity of fuel you might have at your disposal, you'd still be limited by a "terminal velocity", because there are issues like, say, the Lorentz factor.

> ...there is no friction to deal with. The ISS has to deal with friction caused by the atmosphere. It slowly loses altitude because of it and has to boost itself higher every one to three months. See this chart on the Heavens-Above website:

@Antisthenes like if the speed of light is a limitation at the speeds we are talking about. Not mentioning that there is no way you can carry enough fuel to get anywhere close to the speed of light. So the limit you are bringing up offers no practical limitation for conventional action-reaction propulsion. Since we seem to be racing for the most pedantic comment, we shall then say we all move at the constant speed C in spacetime and there is no way to change out total speed at any point.

@antisocial seriously? talking about pedantic....

how about how fast TianHe Space Station orbit the earth? i think people would not care much, what they are watching is "what are you going to do next?"

Who (or which city) will be next to win the "get hit by a big, uncontrolled space debris" lottery ?

Hubertus Bigend

@Antisthenes: anyone fearing those Chinese rockets should know that Europe's current rocket launcher modules do not work much differently. It's not a Chinese specialty.

@Hubertus Bigend > Europe's current rocket launcher modules do not work much differently.

So, which European rockets are intentionally designed to perform UNCONTROLLED re-entries that can potentially hit large population centers around the globe ? Also, which European rockets are "not much different" from the Chinese Long March rockets that are, basically, single stage to orbit designs ?

@Antisthenes: They're called Ariane, and their stages, after jettisoned, are no longer controlled, either. The difference is that they stay in orbit for some time – but only for some time.

. > The difference is that they stay in orbit for some time – but > only for some time.

I'm afraid your understanding of rocketry and orbital mechanics is so non-existent that you don't even realize that you know nothing about the subject.

Ariane is a MULTI-STAGE rocket, and, therefore, its heavy first stage will be used for a fairly short amount of time and won't reach orbital velocity. The first stage is jettisoned in designated areas in the Atlantic ocean, well away from populated land areas.

As an Ariane first stage doesn't even reach orbit, it therefore cannot "stay in orbit for some time".

The huge Chinese single stage to orbit rocket with uncontrolled re-entry is problematic because it will ACTUALLY start orbiting the Earth, and, due to its mass — estimated to be above 20 tons — will not burn up completely upon re-entry.

OTOH, even the largest second stage type of an Ariane rocket has a dry mass of only about 4.5 tons, and will burn up in the atmosphere after de-orbiting.

. When was the last time the debris of a /non-Chinese/ rocket has threatened to randomly hit a large population center ?

Can you find in the news EVEN ONE instance e.g. of an Ariane launcher posing such a threat ?

OTOH, I understand the Chinese will continue the build-up of their space station, thus holding about one "get hit by a de-orbiting launcher debris" lottery draw per year, for several years.

Any point on Earth covered by the ground track of the Chinese space station at about 41° orbital inclination, therefore, any point on Earth between the 41° North and 41° South parallels, which includes e.g. Brasilia, Buenos Aires, New York, Washington, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, Bangkok, Sydney, Auckland, Mumbai, Lagos, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Madrid etc. etc. — will be able to take part in that free lottery. How cool is that.

the lottery had the result :

Rodrigo Pasiani

Awesome. Is that green layer our atmosphere?

Yes. Likely "air-glow".

Usually the atmosphere glows blue, but radioactive pollution and algae cause a nasty green tint.

Astro Landscapes

That's some pretty substantial star "motion" at the edges of the shot for a 30-sec exposure. I wonder what focal length this shot is at?

This star motion is the result of the ISS rotation. Do not compare it to the star motion when shooting the sky from the Earth. I have made some math to compute the orbital time of the ISS from this picture. The center of the circle described by the stars is somewhere near the ISS. I have guessed it at the ISS top right corner. The angle of a star trail is about 2 degrees from this center. 30s being the duration of the trail, the orbital time is about 360/2*30s = 5400s = 90mn. The article mentions 92,68mn... ;-)

If only flat earthers could do math like that...

These are simple math, really. But I am afraid flat earthers have a flat encephalogram ;-) I should clarify something for the reader. I have made a shortcut when saying I have calculated the orbital time, assuming most reader knew the ISS orbital time equals its spin time because the ISS points the same side towards the Earth. The star trails in this picture are the consequence of the ISS spin.


Is everything - satellites, space junk, ice, Etc. moving that fast at that distance from the earth? How does one know that what they think they are seeing In the sky is there space station, starlink or something else?

Satellites can be at very different altitudes. And their stable orbital speed depends on the altitude. Many low earth orbit satellites are at a similar altitude and they all travel at the same speed. Slower and they fall back to earth prematurely. Faster and they steadily increase altitude. (Neglecting drag)

The ISS is the largest orbiting satellite by a wide margin. (It’s not even close). Given its size it’s very bright and looks like Venus or Jupiter would look. Except that it moves quickly across the sky.

It has to be lit by the sun, so you have to look about 30-90 minutes after sunset. Earlier and the sky is too bright. Later and the sun is too far below the horizon and the ISS is in the shadows.

There are websites that can help you identify when it’s visible.

If you have a good 400-600mm lens you can try to get a picture. Try to get a pass where it’s directly overhead so it’s least influenced by atmospheric distortion.

Good site for predictions here:

You need to provide rough coordinates and it will calculate passes. Start and stop times and elevations.

Sometimes there are multiple days or even a week or more where there are no visible passes. And then sometimes you can get two visible passes the same evening multiple nights or mornings in a row.

As suggested above, it's easy to tell apart, if you check the predictions. My record is three times in one night.

Re. speed, you might want to research "orbital mechanics". Basically, the larger you get in terms of body that you orbit/your orbit, the higher your speed. You can't orbit Earth at more than about 10 km/s, or you leave orbit and head into space, but if you orbit a much larger object, like the Sun for example, then because of the more extreme gravity, you have a higher "escape velocity". I think it's something like 50 km/s. This means objects in solar orbit like asteroids, comets, and meteoroids can collide with our atmosphere and have combined speeds of up to around 75 km/s if both objects are heading in opposite directions. This in turn means most meteors are relatively fast when compared with satellites, but the situation gets complicated due to perspective. Satellites always travel at near right angles to observers on the ground, however meteoroids are not in Earth's orbit, so they can be traveling towards you at high speed, but due to perspective, the meteor would appear stationary

The upshot is, under rare circumstances, satellites can look like meteors, although 9 times out of 10 it's easy to tell the difference.

The constant distance between the ISS and Earth results from the balance between the gravitational force and the centrifugal force. This leads to the following equation, which is relatively simple :

v=square root (g x m / d)

where : v = ISS speed g = gravitational constant m = mass of the Earth d = distance between the ISS and the center of the Earth

This gives the value of 7.66 kilometers per second, as mentioned in this article. As you can see, this value does not depend from the satellite mass. A rice grain orbiting at the same distance from the Earth would fly at the same speed than the ISS. Flying at a different speed than the speed given by this equation would require additional forces (and energy) into play (like jet propulsion) to stay in orbit. What this equation also shows, is that the closer the orbit, the faster the speed. (smaller "d" requires a higher "v").

I don't know if I could see ISS with my eyes but I saw it once through a telescope, just by accident.

I was at a friend's house. After dinner he took us outside with his telescope, to show the kids some planets. When I found something like a man-made structure and not a planet, I asked him what it was. He said, "oh, that's the ISS."

It was interesting for me but didn't sound like that for someone who sees it every day.

It’s impossible to mistake the ISS with a planet because it’s moving so fast. It would fly through a telescope FOV in a fraction of a second.

Did I say it looked like a planet?

I just wasn't thinking of ISS and wasn't sure what I was seeing. Until he told me, I didn't know we could see the ISS that easily, even if for a very brief moment.

You are right about the speed, Wider the view, better the glimpse.

If you could not see it with the naked eye, chances are that it was not the ISS. The ISS is easily the brightest artificial object visible in the sky (as far as semi-permanent fixtures go), and has been for a long time. On the other hand, a reasonably good telescope would likely be able to reveal hundreds of satellites in the sky at any one time (perhaps scores if you go back 20 years), many of which might not be visible to the naked eye.

Interesting pictures, and an interesting story too; thank you 🙂

"You can view the ISS with the naked eye, no need for a telescope."

Have not seen that, but I have seen SpaceX's Starlink satellites.

And nobody's stopping him.

ISS is the easiest to see, regularly brightest object in orbit by far. You can see it in middle of city. I haven't seen any Starlinks yet and now that they have sun shield I don't think I will see them unless I go to some dark place.

I am adding this to the things that don't make sense in space.

- 30 sec exposure of Earth from ISS

Don Kiyoti

Why doesn't it make sense?

Yes, Eugene. Maybe we can help you make sense of it?

When you know it’s 250 miles away and you see it streaking across the sky you know it’s moving fast. Totally get that it’s hard to capture in a single photograph. Interesting shot.

Yeah I remember in the early 80s my uncle had a chart to know which satellite we were seeing. There were not that many back then. But yes just a tiny simple calculation in your head shows how fast they are going.

Any time you look up and concentrate, it takes less than 1min to see 1 or more satellites. Yet most people ive met in my entire life have never bothered to look up. Always thought they were weird, now they just make me sad.

People travel to Southern hemisphere countries and I ask them if they saw the southern cross. Nope, dont know what im talking about. Never bothered to look up.

I am trying to figure out the rotations in the shot. The ISS must be rotating on its own axis for the star blur, but you dont see that in the earth based lights blur.

ISS I believe is rotating at the same rate it’s flying around the earth. I think it rotates 16 times per day so it’s in the same orientation relative to earth. About 4 degrees per minute.

Does that make sense?

MikeRan. Yes, it makes sense. And you can calcultate the orbital time of the ISS from this picture. I did it in a comment above.

Yes it makes sense, I just thought the Earth lights blur would be more curved as well. I believe the photo. Maybe the relative speed and duration of shutter gives a straighter looking blur. I think it would make sense if the ISS was going the same direction of the rotation of the Earth.

As the ISS orbits the Earth 16 times faster than the Earth’s own rotation the latter is insignificant here. The trails of the city lights on Earth are due to the station moving relative to the Earth’s surface while the star trails are due to the ISS rotating around its axis – once every orbit, i.e. every 90 minutes.

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Lost in Space: NASA Astronauts drop tool bag into orbit that you can see with binoculars

travel to international space station

Somewhere hurtling more than 200 miles above the planet's surface is one of Earth's newest satellites : a tool bag, and it's possible you might be able to spot it with a telescope or good pair of binoculars if you know where to look.

How did astronauts drop a tool bag in space?

The white, satchel-like tool bag slipped away from two astronauts during a rare, all-female spacewalk Nov. 1 as they performed maintenance on the International Space Station , according to social media posts on X (formerly Twitter) from scientists and other experts familiar with the situation.

While there's no official word whether the tool bag contained a 10 mm socket wrench, the bag was spotted floating over Mount Fuji last week by Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa .

Now space junk , it has since been catalogued with the ID : 58229 / 1998-067WC.

Have astronauts dropped things in space before?

Sadly it's not the first tool bag lost in space. In November 2008, Endeavor astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper lost a grip on her backpack-sized tool kit while cleaning up a mess from a leaking grease gun, according to .

That tool bag, valued at $100,000, circled the planet for months until meeting its fiery end after plunging to Earth and disintegrating. Experts believe last week's missing tool bag will share the same fate as it hurtles in the upper atmosphere, which has become increasingly littered.

As of September 2023, the  European Space Agency estimates  11,000 tons of space objects are orbiting Earth. That includes up to 36,500 pieces of debris greater than 10 cm, objects that could cause cataclysmic damage if they were to hit a satellite or a rocket.

How to see the missing tool bag ISS astronauts dropped using binoculars

Spotting a suitcase-sized tool bag traveling thousands of miles an hour in the planet's thermosphere isn't the impossible task it might sound like, say avid sky watchers.

To begin, the bag is reflective thanks to catching the sun's rays and shines just below the limit of visibility to the unaided eye, according to , meaning you should be able to spot the tool bag with a good pair of binoculars.

Under clear, dark skies the bag can be seen floating ahead of the International Space Station, which is the third brightest object in the night sky and looks like a fast-moving plane, according to NASA .

Fortunately, it's easy to spot if you know where to look.

How to track the International Space Station

You can keep track of the International Space Station online at or by downloading the same app on Apple or Google Play .

According to EarthSky, follow the trajectory of the ISS and scan the sky in the area just ahead of the space station. As the tool bag gradually loses height, it should appear between two and four minutes ahead of the ISS during the next few days.

John Tufts covers evening breaking and trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at  [email protected] .


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