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What Is a Space Station? A Fundamental Explanation

Jagatheesh is a Mechanical Engineer and interested in writing on science and technology in our life.

The International Space Station is the complex assembly of various modules in space

The International Space Station is the complex assembly of various modules in space

The new-age astronauts' Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have completed their voyage to space. They marked the start of a new era in space travel. Hundreds of research conducted in space with the support of space stations have made this voyage conceivable. So, what exactly is a space station, and how does it function?

Space stations are sky-based laboratories for undertaking various space-related studies. The orbital velocity is the underlying idea for space stations. The pace at which an object must travel to balance its inertia and the gravity of a large body, such as the planet Earth, is known as orbital velocity.

The moon maintains orbital velocity as it revolves around the earth for millions of years. This natural law is now used by artificial satellites and space stations. This article will solve the secrets of space stations and the science that accompanies them.

The Evolution of Space Stations

A fiction novella called The Brick Moon, written in the second part of the nineteenth century was the first to mention a space station. Various scientific notions have been offered over time. Dr. Wernher Von Braun proposed a revolving wheel space station in 1951, identical to the one featured in the film The Martian.

In 1971, the Soviet Union was the first to launch a monolithic space station known as Salyut-1. Later advances in science enable the assembling of various modules in space to construct a complicated structure. Various space agencies from all around the world are attempting to construct their space station.

The only functioning space station is the International Space Station, which was built by a group of countries. The construction of the International Space Station began in 1998 and is still ongoing. Modern-day space travel is possible because of several scientific projects carried out aboard the International Space Station.

Basic Space Science Concepts

These are basic concepts to get a fundamental idea about the working of the Space stations.

  • Orbit: An orbit is a regular, repeating, the path of a satellite around a celestial body.
  • Orbital Velocity: Orbital Velocity is the speed at which an object must travel to remain in a celestial body's orbit. The object's velocity should be high enough to resist the celestial body's gravitational pull and synchronize with its rotating velocity.
  • Gravitational Pull: Gravitational pull is the force that pushes a smaller object towards the center of a massive object. It is the force that causes the planets to orbit the sun.
  • Microgravity: It is the condition in which the gravity will be at a micro-level. The objects will experience weightlessness.
  • Escape Velocity: It is the minimum speed required by an object to move away from the gravitational influence of a large body.
  • Controlled Re-entry: It is the forced re-entry of an artificial satellite over a pre-determined area. It is one of the ways to remove retired satellites from orbit. The objects are forced to enter the earth's atmosphere where it burns due to the friction with the atmosphere.
  • Disposal Orbit: It is the orbit that lies away from the operational orbits. It is also known as graveyard orbit.
The Orbital Velocity is responsible for the revolution of planets around the sun. Gravity of the Sun holds the planets in their respective orbits.

The Orbital Velocity is responsible for the revolution of planets around the sun. Gravity of the Sun holds the planets in their respective orbits.

The Journey of Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos increased humanity's curiosity on space.

A Space Station's Architecture

Several different modules make up the space stations. Consider how hard it would be to build and maintain a high-tech laboratory in space. The initial days of space exploration involve launching a single module to perform research. Technical evolution made it possible to send two are more modules separately and integrated them into space.

In 1998, work on the International Space Station began. When we're inside, it's like we're building a house.

Major Components of A Space Station:

A space station has several different components joined together to form a complete structure.

  • Pressurized Modules: The quarters where astronauts live and work are known as pressurized modules. They have canister and sphere shapes. There are housing accommodations and laboratories on the premises.
  • Nodes: These are the elements that connect the various modules. They allow astronauts and their equipment to move around the station.
  • Docking Ports: They connect various vehicles launched at different times to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Integrated Truss Structure: The backbone of a space station is the Integrated Truss Structure. It consists of several triangular structures and beams. Here you'll find solar panels and radiators. It keeps the temperature of the space station constant.
  • Remote Manipulator System: It is the robotic arm of the space station. Relocating the modules, aids in the construction of the station. They're also utilized to haul freight out of the shuttle bay.
  • External Research and Payload Accommodation: It provides several mounting places outside a space station for experiments done outside the facility.
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How Does a Space Station is Launched?

In the modern world, Johannes Kepler introduced the concept of orbital velocity. The orbital velocity of the planets determines the revolution of the moon around the earth and the planets around the sun. Gravity will attract the object if the orbital velocity is low. It departs the orbit and enters space when the orbital velocity is high.

The Space Station is a large collection of machines. Different modules are launched using rockets. When a rocket is fired, the modules are launched to a specific altitude. After that, it travels in an orbit that is parallel to the earth. When the rocket reaches the requisite orbital velocity, the modules are freed from the rocket.

The modules travel around the earth at orbital velocity without any propulsion. The space station, however, loses height due to friction induced by air molecules. The space station utilizes a propulsion system to change its altitude. Due to atmospheric interference, the International Space Station loses 90 meters per day.

Saturn V of NASA is the tallest heaviest and most powerful rocket ever used.

Saturn V of NASA is the tallest heaviest and most powerful rocket ever used.

What is the Source of Supplies for the International Space Station?

At an average altitude of 250 miles, the International Space Station moves at a speed of 17500 miles per hour. The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the Earth 16 times per day. ISS investigates a variety of experiments in the fields of biology, fundamental physics, and material sciences.

Solar panels provide the majority of the power for the Space Station. Lithium-ion batteries are used to store energy. For height adjustment and debris avoidance, the service modules and supply ships augment the propulsion. The tracking and data relay satellites keep the astronauts in the space station in touch. They track the location using GPS and the Russian satellite system.

Spacecraft deliver oxygen from the earth. The ISS also features an electrolysis system for producing oxygen. For food, the crew is completely reliant on supplies from Earth. The majority of the food is packed uniquely. 80% of water is recycled.

The International Space Station's main worry is microgravity. It's a situation when gravity isn't powerful enough to bring things together. As a result, everything in the ISS floats. Bones lose calcium and muscle mass in microgravity (Osteoporosis). To keep healthy and avoid osteoporosis, astronauts must exercise daily. They have a treadmill, an exercise cycle, and a weight-lifting machine customized for them.

Astronaut Frank De Winne, attached to the TVIS treadmill with bungee cords aboard the ISS

Astronaut Frank De Winne, attached to the TVIS treadmill with bungee cords aboard the ISS

"The thing I'll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I'm sure it was the most fun that I'll ever have in my life."

— - Sally K. Ride, First Woman to Orbit Earth on the Space Shuttle

Can You See the Space Station With Naked Eye?

With the naked eye, the International Space Station is visible. The ISS's size (110m100m30m) allowed it to reflect a considerable amount of sunlight. As a result, we can see the space station with our own eyes.

The best time to see a space station is at night. We must thank NASA for giving us information about the ISS sightings over our location. Click here to know the ISS Sighting time for a specific location.

Decommissioning a Space Station

Satellites and space stations work for a specific amount of time. When the satellites have completed their mission, they are either deactivated by controlled re-entry or by being pushed into a disposal orbit. Around 3000 dead satellites are orbiting the planet.

For a Tour of The International Space Station, Check Out the Video.

Space Stations Ended the Thirst of Humanity

In today's world, space stations are engineering marvels. For generations, people have been fascinated by space. It gives humans the impetus to investigate the cosmos. Space stations quenched Homo sapiens' desire for knowledge by supplying us with crucial data for future space missions. Colonizing space is within reach with the help of the scientific community.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jagatheesh Aruchami

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