Dr. Surprise

High above us people are working together—



Photos:  NASA


     In 2009, all five ISS partner nations were represented on the station for the first time together.  


Tracy Caldwell Dyson.



Dr. Surprise is from Ukraine and is our awesome Science Page Editor.  He loves science, math, boxing and chess. He is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian and has studied English 10 years. 

IN 1984, U.S. president Ronald Reagan gave an order to build a new space station named Freedom. But when scientists counted the cost, it was really huge! At that time, the USSR also wanted to build a station called Mir-2. But they did not have enough money either.  Finally, in 1992 Russia and the U.S. signed an agreement to build a station together. And so, working together helped both countries. It was called the ISS, or International Space Station.  In 1993 it became truly international by including many different countries. Since the start, fifteen countries have participated in some way in this project. At all times at least six people from different countries are living there. The official language is English.

     There were a lot of problems in trying to build such a huge station in space. Then someone had the idea to build it from pieces directly in space. That also meant that people from different countries would be working together to build their “space home” together.  In 1998 Russia sent the first part of the station into space. And only in 2013, the last main parts arrived on the station.  NASA wants to send more modules to the ISS, but the cost is more than $100 billion.

     The station flies about 338 kilometers (250 miles) above the earth. It flies at a speed of 27,600 kilometers per hour (17,150 miles per hour).  That means that every 93 minutes it makes a circle around our planet.

     The station has 14 main modules [sections] and lives on light energy from the sun which is turned into electricity.  The main purpose of ISS is scientific research. Many interesting discoveries are found in subjects like physics, biology, astronomy, etc. 


Here are 10 interesting space facts:

1. You can see ISS from earth. It looks like a really bright star. I have seen it at least 5 times.  I wave to it! If you go to the web site “Spot the Station” you can sign up to have e-mails sent to you when the station flies over your house.  Here’s the address. Copy and paste it into your web browser:  http://spotthestation.nasa.gov

2. Because of the low orbit of the ISS, it can be hit by space trash! Some space trash is just little objects but there are also parts of really huge rockets flying through space.

3. There have been 8 space tourists who have flown in space. They each paid at least $40 million.

4. There was a wedding on ISS.  Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko married Ekaterina Dmitrieva, who was in Texas at the time of the wedding!

5. As part of an advertisement for a Canadian golf company, there was a golf ball hit from ISS into outer space which flew around the world.  

6. ISS has some gravity. Actually, it has 90% of our gravity on earth but because the station is in free fall [always being pulled toward the earth] the feeling is like having no gravity at all.  

7. The size, or area, of the solar [sun] panels is equal to 8 basketball courts.

8.  Eight miles (12 kilometers) of wire connects the electrical power system.

9.  As of May, 2014, 214 people have lived on the station.

10. The record for the longest continuous stay in space was made by Russian cosmonaut, Valeri Polyakov who stayed on the Mir space station 437 days, 17 hours, and 38 minutes.


 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com