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The Station - Completed Stationscientific research on the space station

NASA's International Space Station implementation plan outlines research areas for which the ISS provides facilities and summarizes its unique research assets as follows:

By the beginning of ISS assembly in 1998, NASA's cumulative time in space aboard the Space Shuttle will be approaching 800 days in orbit. By that same time, American astronauts will have spent more than 950 days aboard the Russian space station Mir. Our accomplishments to date aboard these platforms have been significant…

However, the Shuttle and Mir are limited in manners that the ISS is not. The Space Shuttle's maximum stay in orbit is less than 3 weeks… While Mir is a well-established research facility…it is much more limited than the ISS in size, resources, and versatility. For example, Mir encloses 497 cubic yards of pressurized space, while the ISS will have an internal volume of 1,716 cubic yards—nearly four times that which Mir contains.

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The Station - Russian ModulesIn addition to its six dedicated laboratory modules, the ISS will provide external truss and exposed facility sites to accommodate a broad range of attached payloads for technology, Earth science, and space science experiments. We expect at least a decade of routine research operations aboard the ISS. When this time is multiplied by the number of astronauts on board, the ISS will provide well over 25,000 "crew-days" in orbit.

This uninterrupted, long-term access to space will allow researchers to rapidly acquire the large sets of data necessary to validate new concepts and confirm previously unobserved phenomena. Investigators will be able to make multiple experiment runs in succession, obtaining statistically significant results in a manner of weeks—even days—instead of years.

Whether it is improving industrial processes, increasing fundamental knowledge, looking after our health, enabling exploration, or researching tomorrow's products today, ISS research will generate tangible returns as it improves our lives on Earth and in space.

Excerpted from NASA's "International Space Station Research Plan Overview."

The Station - Japanese LabsThe major research disciplines for which ISS laboratories are designed are:

  • Microgravity Science
  • Life Science
  • Space Science
  • Earth Science
  • Engineering Research and Technology
  • Space Product Development.

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*Click on images for captions
Photo credits for all images: NASA.

Additional materials in this section courtesy of NASA and Boeing.


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