As of yesterday, the ISS has been continuously occupied for 15 years, as Expedition 1 (Bill Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko) launched October 31, 2000 and docked on November 2. This extends the station’s existing record for the longest continuous habitation; it eclipsed Mir about five years ago. And as it’s now funded through 2024, it’s going to stretch that record quite a bit further yet.
To commemorate the occasion, NASA released this quirky little song:
Today, the station is operated jointly by NASA, Roscosmos, ESA, JAXA, and CSA (representing the US, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada respectively). Way to go, folks! You’ve built something to be proud of.
Today, the station is occupied by the Expedition 45 crew, consisting of Scott Kelly, Mikhail Korniyenko, Oleg Ononenko, Kimiya Yui, Kjell Lindgren, and Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Korniyenko are conducting a year-long flight, the first aboard the ISS and the first with NASA participation; they will transfer to the Expedition 46 crew when their Expedition 45 crewmates return home. Sergey Volkov will follow them to that crew, while the other three are scheduled to return in December. Overlapping crew schedules mean the station need never be abandoned completely.
My eldest daughter was born in 2003. It is surprising, and rather wonderful, to think on that and realize she has never known a time when there were no human beings in space. 😉