The International Space Station: Reveling at 15

NASA celebrates the International Space Station’s 15th consecutive year of human lab living.

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Hailing 15

NASA and the world cosmos community this month celebrate the International Space Station’s 15th consecutive year of humans living in its celestial lab. In those 15 years, 45 crewed expeditions -- more than 220 people from 17 countries -- have visited the station, constructed over more than 115 space flights conducted on five different types of launch vehicles. The station now measures 357 feet end-to-end and provides more livable room than a conventional six-bedroom house, NASA says. Here we take a look at life onboard and what the ISS has meant to space exploration.

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The first

On Nov. 2, 2000, the Expedition 1 crew -- Commander William M. (Bill) Shepherd of NASA and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev and Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko of Roscosmos -- arrived at the International Space Station, marking the start of an uninterrupted human presence on the orbiting laboratory. (Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd (center) is flanked by Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko (right) and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev (left) in Moscow before the crew's historic mission.)

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According to NASA 22 scientific investigations were conducted during Expedition 1, while a total of 191 scientific investigations will be conducted during upcoming Expeditions 45 and 46. To date, more than 1,200 scientific results publications have been produced based on over 1,760 research investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

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Space shuttles

The International Space Station as seen from the space shuttle Discovery after the undocking of the two spacecraft on March 7, 2011.

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Another first

The International Space Station is seen with the docked space shuttle Endeavour in this photo provided by NASA and taken in 2011. The photo was taken by Expedition 27 crew member Paolo Nespoli from the Soyuz TMA-20 following its undocking and is the first-ever image of a space shuttle docked to the International Space Station.

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Nice views

A view of Earth from the Cupola on the earth-facing side of the International Space Station. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen.

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Not the usual tourist

Space tourist Anousheh Ansari while enroute to the International Space Station on Sept. 18, 2006.

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Doing windows

Astronaut Karen Nyberg looks through a window in the newly installed Kibo laboratory.

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Cold shot

Siberia's Lake Baikal is pictured in this photo taken by astronaut Chris Hadfield on February 2013.

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Workin’ outside

Astronaut Robert L. Satcher Jr. works outside the International Space Station.

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Outside looking in

A Russian cosmonaut during a mission in open space outside the International Space Station.

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Nice pics

Astronaut Chris Cassidy inside the Cupola using a 400mm lens on a digital still camera to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth, some 250 miles below.

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Delivering groceries

Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station.

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Checking the oil

NASA astronauts Greg Chamitoff (L), mission specialist, and space shuttle Endeavour Commander Mark Kelly, work on the orbiter's middeck in 2011.

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Pumping gravity

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata begins a workout on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device in the Unity node in 2009.

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Doing dock ops

NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff uses a laptop on the aft flight deck of space shuttle Endeavour during rendezvous and docking operations with the International Space Station in 2011.

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Washing up

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrates how she washes her hair in zero gravity in 2013.

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The Center for Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, now manages half of the crew research time via the ISS National Laboratory and is developing a wide variety of commercial research , everything from water purification technology to surgery devices and space crop growth.

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ISS to Mars

According to NASA, the International Space Station is paving our way to Mars as the only microgravity laboratory in which long-duration investigations can take place. From understanding how the human body reacts to long-term spaceflight to testing critical systems for Mars missions, the space station  is a crucial stepping stone to deep-space exploration.

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Facts of the ISS matter

The ISS solar array surface area could cover the U.S. Senate Chamber three times over. ISS is larger than a six-bedroom house and its solar array wingspan (240 feet) is longer than that of a Boeing 777 200/300 model, which is 212 feet. The 75 to 90 kilowatts of power for the ISS is supplied by that acre of solar panels.

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Computers anyone?

Fifty-two computers control the systems on the ISS. Some 3.3 million lines of software code on the ground support 1.8 million lines of flight software code. In the International Space Station’s U.S. segment alone, 1.5 million lines of flight software code run on 44 computers communicating via 100 data networks transferring 400,000 signals (e.g. pressure or temperature measurements, valve positions, etc.). Main U.S. control computers have 1.5GB of total main hard drive storage in the U.S. segment compared to modern PCs, which have approximately 500GB hard drives.

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More birthdays to come

For the latest in ISS news check out this NASA video.