Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend a vacation in outer space? Imagine just hanging out and observing your surroundings while you enjoy a snack. Well, this is entirely possible for astronauts and those who work for their country’s space programs.
Space stations give humans an outpost to observe and research high above the surface of the earth.
What Exactly is a Space Station?
According to Britannica.com, a space station is “an artificial structure placed in orbit which has the pressurized enclosure, power, supplies, and environmental systems necessary to support human habitation for extended periods of time.”
Although most space stations are launched fully assembled, some are sent into space in modules (pieces) that are later put together by its crew members. The crew members travel to space in a separate vehicle in order to maximize the capacity of the space station.
This requires the space station to have the ability to restore resources that transportation will need when it eventually returns to Earth such as air, food, and water. Think of it as a “galactic gas station.”
Space stations are powered by panels of solar cells as well as batteries. They are able to communicate with people on the ground via relay satellites that are in constant contact with well-positioned satellites on Earth.
What Are Space Stations Used For?
Space stations serve as outposts for numerous activities such as observation of the earth’s resources and other phenomena concerning its solar system. The station is also used for testing other spacecraft and equipment that may be used for future missions to the moon or other planets.
Space stations allow scientists to observe and examine the earth’s atmosphere and everything that contributes to its existence in the most advantageous environment. The vantage point of performing experiments and research from the “outside” will pave the way for the future.
Interpreting information sent from satellites to the ground pales in comparison to actually seeing the research in real time. Space stations allow for more accurate and detailed information to be used for scientific discovery.
What Are the Benefits of Space Stations?
Since 1971, there have been 11 space stations launched into the earth’s orbit—Salyut 1, Skylab, Salyuts 3-7, Mir, the International Space Station, and Tiangong 1 and 2. As of April 2018, there are only two space stations orbiting the earth—the International Space Station (ISS) and China’s Tiangong 2.
The work being done aboard these space stations have life-altering benefits for the whole world. One such advancement is called the Environmental and Life Control Support System (ECLSS)—turning waste into drinkable water.
In order to keep the crew in these space stations alive, a system had to be created in order to quickly and efficiently provide nourishment. This technology can now be used to provide pure water to areas across the world that don’t have any.
Fighting Disease and Finding Cures
The fight against osteoporosis has also gained ground from research being conducted on these space stations. Just like human’s bones deteriorate as they get older, astronauts’ bones become less dense in space.
Through experiments performed in space station laboratories, the astronauts were able to determine what causes bone deterioration and therefore implemented an aggressive diet and a strong dose of vitamin D to combat osteoporosis.
Astronauts have also taken advantage of their position above Earth in order to capture images of natural disasters and their effects on certain parts of the world. Being able to observe Earth from space allows people to better prepare for potential threats from natural disasters.
The work that is occurring aboard these space stations is literally saving lives. It’s also improving the quality of life for people all over the world.
Space stations play a major role in the advancement of life on Earth by providing a unique and beneficial vantage point of how our small planet fits into the grand scheme of life. It’s truly remarkable.