The ISS celebrates 20 years of life in space
5:49

The ISS celebrates 20 years of life in space

Science
Tonight, we're wishing happy birthday to the International Space Station. As everyone's favorite low-Earth-orbit share house turns twenty, we ask how it got there? How did the astronauts survive on-board? And, who exactly left that weird pizza stain on the [UNKNOWN] couch? I'm Claire Riley. Welcome to Watch this Space. [MUSIC] From the CNet Studios in Sydney, this is your weekly guide to everything on Earth you need to know about space. And tonight, the International Space Station is turning 20. Old enough to vote. Not quite old enough to drink. Sorry ISS, you're gonna have to layoff that moonshine for another year. The idea for an international space station goes all the way back to Ronald Reagan. Who was no doubt kind of TOd about missing the first space race and getting to shoot junk into space. I guess that's what you get for gallivanting around Hollywood movie sets. Ooh Regan burn topical. Anyway in nineteen ninety four Regan called on NASA to build an international space station within a decade. It took another 14 years to get off the ground but on November 20, 1998 the first module of the ISS was launched. The Russian built, U.S. owned functional cargo block known as Zaria, not that one, there we go, was the first component of the ISS to be launched. Two weeks later the U.S. built component, known as Unity, was also launched Watched. The whole ISS was always going to be way to big to shoot into space in one go. It weighs close to a million pounds now. Instead, the space station was built in stages over the years, with all the different modules blasting off from Earth on 42 separate assembly flights before being attached to the ISS in space piece by piece. Think of it kind of like a king size IKEA bed that doesn't quite fit through your apartment door. So, the Russian Space Agency and NASA took all the parts of their fleuve board, threw them into the space bedroom and then connected with the double fleuve and smorgasbord with a remotely operated Allen Key. As it stands or more accurately, floats now, the whole space station is just one yard short of a football field from end to end, that's 357 feet. Or because this is space where smart people use the metric system instead of just measuring everything in yards and penny weights and thimbles, that's roughly 109 meters. So what's up there? Well in honor of the space station's aeronautics history, why don't we take a tour of the ISS in a style similar to, yet legally distinct from, MTV's Cribs. [MUSIC] That's right, Claire, we're up here on the ISS, so sorry if I break up just a wee bit. But they've let us on for a Special viewing. This whole area is about the size of a six bedroom, deluxe house in the Hollywood Hills. It's got a gym where they work out at least two hours a day. They've got two bathrooms complete with the great suction toilets that they use up here. And of course, a water recovery system to make full use of the beautiful [UNKNOWN] water that they get on the ISS. Most importantly for the Instagram game up here, they've got that gorgeous 360-degree viewing window which is just a delight. There are also six fabulous sleeping quarters up here or you can just peg yourself to a wall and sleep like a rockstar. Fun fact, those sleeping quarters need To be really well ventilated. Otherwise, you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air because the carbon dioxide has pooled around your face like a bubble. Isn't that great? Outside there's an acre of solar panels with a wingspan of about 240 feet or 73 meters. That's roughly the size of two Mariah Carey walk-in wardrobes. And when it comes to parking your ride up here, Claire, the ISS can have six space ships connected to it at once for when the crew wants to bring their crew around. Now while we're up here, Claire, I do just want to touch on the technology they've got installed. They've got 350,000 sensors 50 computers, all connected with eight miles of wiring. And of course, internet via satellite, which makes for some really sweet land parties. Am I right? No? I've lost a connection. Okay, well, the ISS orbits the Earth 16 times in a single day at a speed of five miles a second. That's roughly one orbit every 19 minutes. All up, we give the ISS four and half stars. It could be a little more spacious, but we love what they've done with the place, and it makes for a pretty sweet pad. Back to you, Claire. Thanks Clair, that space crib truly is dope af. The structure itself is impressive but what's more impressive is the fact that since Expedition 1 first visited on November 2nd, 2000, the International Space Station has hosted humans in space for 18 uninterrupted years. More than 230 people have visited the ISS. In that time, more than half of them from the U.S. And the ISS has even hosted a handful of space tourists. But the bulk of the time humans spend on the ISS is spent working, doing research and conducting remote experiments for scientists back on Earth. That includes everything from growing plants and biology experiments to track how cell growth differs in space, measuring the effects of whitelessness and microgravity. [MUSIC] And research on how humans cope under extreme conditions. And then there's all the time astronauts spend communicating with us here on Earth. Sharing their experiences with students, shooting explainers on how stuff works in space. And yes, even briefing the stars of the movie, The Martian, on how to act as believable astronauts. Though friend of the show, Matt Damon, needs. No acting tips whatsoever. So there you have it. Spend time on Earth's most remote share house, and you're gonna have to work out two hours in a gym every day, pee in a suction tube, sleep against a wall in a bubble of your own expired air, all while hurdling around the planet at five miles per second. Sorry, but that Airbnb gets a solid one star review from me. That's it for this week's edition of Watch This Space. If you've enjoyed our broadcast, then please click the like button on your remote and subscribe to get more updates and space news as it happens. I'm Claire Reilly for CNET. Good night and god speed.

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