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International Space Station

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1356659.  Sat Aug 22, 2020 6:30 am Reply with quote

Since 1998, when the International Space Station was launched, it has travelled more than 1.5 billion miles, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes. It has cost over $100 billion and, according to NASA, has been visited by 240 astronauts from 19 different countries and 5 separate continents. However, one of the more interesting facts is that the ISS and the astronauts on board are always in permanent free fall. Although there is a belief that astronauts float due to the perception that there is no gravity in space, this isn’t actually true. The spacecraft and the crew are actually subject to microgravity and are all falling towards the Earth which results in the astronauts appearing to float.

The space station orbits Earth at about 200 to 250 miles high and at that height, Earth's gravity is still very strong which means there is a considerable pull on the ISS towards the Earth. However, instead of falling through the atmosphere and crashing to the ground, the ISS “falls around the Earth”. In essence, this means that the ISS is moving at such a speed, 17,500 miles per hour to be exact, that the curve of its ‘fall’ matches that of the curve of the Earth. As a result, the station keeps falling toward the ground but, due to its speed, remains in continual orbit around the Earth.

(There are plenty of other ISS-related facts but I thought the misperception about why astronauts on the ISS float was suitably QI-relevant. Apologies if it has been covered previously).


Janet H
1358073.  Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:18 pm Reply with quote

Did they ever find out who drilled the tiny hole in the wall?

A 2mm hole was found in the Russian Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, the Roscosmos shuttle used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. The landing module of the spacecraft returned safely to Earth in December 2018, while the detaching living quarters - complete with the hole - burned up on reentry.

Alexander Howard
1358155.  Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:35 pm Reply with quote

This evening, by coincidence, I found a Scott Manley YouTube video about the hole in the ISS. It was essentially "Probably made by a drill when the module was being built - but the Russians won't say, or if they do they say it in Russian". It was as interesting for his account of the rumour and misinformation that spread about it.

1360078.  Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:47 am Reply with quote

It would be very interesting if the episode relating to the ISS was broadcast on Nov 2nd, to mark the anniversary of the last time everyone alive was on earth at the same time.


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