249 miles above Earth and traveling at 17,150 miles per hour, the International Space Station celebrated its 100,000th orbit earlier today. NASA put together a short video celebrating the occasion.
Those are some crazy stats. My favorite one? Despite traveling at 17,150 miles per hour for more than 17 years, the International Space Station still wouldn’t have reached Neptune yet. It just goes to show you how fast spacecraft like New Horizons travel (~36,000 miles per hour)
While NASA celebrates this huge milestone, let’s take a look at what the average day looks like.
Every 90 minutes, the International Space Station completes one orbit around Earth. That means the six-person crew sees 16 sunrises and sunsets every day. One sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. And each one looks stunning.
Good Morning! Sunrise bursting on the scene followed by beautiful ocean sun glint. We get 16 of these every day!https://t.co/UKanwP0Bv8
All those fantastic pictures we see on Twitter from the current crew usually come during their down time right before they sleep. If you’re not following Tim Peake and Tim Kopra on Twitter, change that. You won’t be disappointed. Here are a few of their most recent images.
Here’s an example of what one work day looked like for astronaut Chris Cassidy in 2013.
06:00 GMT wake up personal time 07:30 Discuss today’s work with the ground 07:45 Daily tasks – maintenance, payloads etc. 09:45 Exercise on Bike 1hr 10:45 Exercise rope strength training 1 hr (Medical) 11:45 Strength training 1:20m 13:00 Lunch 14:00 EVA Suit maintenance 14:30 Prep for a PAO 14:40 PAO 20m 15:00 ATV transfer operations 16:30 PMC (Private Medical Conference with the ground) 17:10 PPC (Private Psychological Conference 17:40 ATV transfer operations 18:35 prep for next day 19:05 Discuss day’s work with the ground 19:30 personal time before sleep 21:30 Sleep 06:00 GMT wake up personal time 07:30 Discuss today’s work with the ground 08:15 Install Alignment Guides for Flammable Liquids Cabinet 08:25 ATV Transfer 09:50 Spinal Elongation Microgravity Experiment 11:30 Load Platform Serial Network Flow Monitor Scientific Hardware Cabinet 11:45 Switch Load Scientific Experiment 12:00 Binary Colloidal Alloy Experiment
As you can see, ISS crewmembers put in a full days work everyday. After 12 hours of work, they get a two-hour breather to relax and send emails to their family and friends. Many of the crew enjoy peering out the window during their off-time. And who wouldn’t. You would have to pry me away with those kind of views.
See the ISS
NASA has a handy website you can use to see the International Space Station. You’ll want to look up in the few hours after sunset or before sunrise. It’s pretty damn awesome when you see it for the first time. It shines brightly in the sky and then winks out as it falls into the Earth’s shadow.
The NASA website will give you viewing opportunities for the next two weeks. Make sure you have clear views of the horizons for most of them as the ISS tends to be low in the sky. At least, it is where I live.
With 100,000 orbits under its belt, the International Space Station has many more thousands ahead of it.