America’s Contributions to the International Space Station

America’s Contributions to the International Space Station

Photo source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons


Hi there!  My name is Dante, and I’m a Florida panther.  As ADPP’s guest blogger this month, I am honored to tell you about something I learned during my recent visit to NASA, right here in Florida, my home state. 

I was fascinated to learn about the International Space Station.  Here are some fun facts for curious kids and of course, parents and grandparents too!  Not surprisingly, for two decades, the United States was the leader in nearly all civilian space efforts and accomplishments.  In 1984, the United States began its plan to make what is now known as the International Space Station.  It was launched in 1998 and is also known as the ISS.  So, right about now you kids out there might be asking, what exactly is a space station?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  A space station is a spacecraft that is made to stay in space for long periods of time.  It also allows other space craft to connect to it.  A space station stays in space and is a working laboratory for research and experiments. 

ISS pic3

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

ISS and Earth

The International Space Station is seen from Space Shuttle Atlantis as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation.

Photo Source:NASA via Wikimedia Commons

The ISS was built to allow astronauts from many different countries to stay there, do research and learn more about space.  The ISS was a collaborative project started by the United States that is still in use today.  Some of the countries involved include, the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan.  Since 1998, there have been 192 successful spacewalks at the ISS and it has been continually occupied since November 2000.  In that time, more than 200 people from 15 countries have visited the International Space Station, each making contributions to science, space exploration and technology.  

Flight Crew

Inside the Kibo laboratory of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are the six Expedition 36 crew members.  Center Top is Chris Cassidy and Center Middle is Karen Nyberg, NASA Flight Engineers.  Also pictured are Commander Pavel Vinogradov of Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos.

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Astronauts Together

Working Together: The Expedition 45 crew aboard the International Space Station gather for an emergency situation simulation inside the U.S. Destiny Laboratory.  Crews on the station routinely review and practice procedures that would be used in the event of an emergency.  Pictured (left to right) is JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, Mikhail Kornienko, and Sergey Volkov, and NASA astronaut and Expedition 45 commander Scott Kelly.

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Astronauts Outside

NASA Astronauts, Tom Marshburn (right) and Christopher Cassidy, mission specialists for STS-127

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Here is a quote from one of my favorite astronauts, Ron Garan.  He even went to school in my home state of Florida!

“The ISS would not be the incredibly capable orbiting research facility it is today without either Russians or Americans, just as it couldn’t have been built without the Canadian arm used in its construction.” -Ron Garan, NASA Astronaut

“Ideally, the ISS program will just be one more incremental step on an expanding, incredible journal of exploration and understanding, taking us higher and farther.”   -Ron Garan, NASA Astronaut


Astronauts Ron Garan and Mark Kelly, Photo from NASA

One of the most interesting fun facts I learned was that the ISS is traveling at a speed of five miles per second!  This means the ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes.  Wouldn’t you love to see it pass by your house?  Well, if you are interested in finding out when you can see the ISS from the skies above your hometown, you can check out Spot the Station and they will tell you exactly when and where the ISS will be coming near you!  A night of star-gazing and an ISS lookout is exactly what the doctor ordered for a fun filled night!                                                                                                                                 

ISS pic2

Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Inside the International Space Station there is a laboratory where a crew of 6 people from different countries live and work.  The work they do at the International Space Station helps improve our understanding of Earth, space, science, engineering, robotics and more!

Astronaut Inside 1

Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Expedition 10 commander and NASA ISS science officer, floats in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Astronaut Inside 2

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Expedition 20 flight engineer, works in the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) docked to the International Space Station.

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Astronaut Inside 3

Astronaut Susan J. Helms, mission specialist, performs battery maintenance beneath the floor of the functional cargo block (FGB) or Zarya on the International Space Station.

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Right now, the ISS is helping us understand more about our solar system, asteroids and planets like Mars.  As I speak, American astronauts are using the ISS to help research how robots and humans can explore space in the future.  American Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are currently on a one-year mission on the International Space Station.  No human has ever stayed in space for that long.  These brave men have spent this year learning, experimenting and exploring while staying on the ISS. 

Astronaut Kelly and Cosmonaut Kornienko’s stay on the ISS for one year will teach us about the effects of long term space travel on the human body.  It will also tell us about what we can do to make sure people can safely spend time in space.  Scott Kelly and his twin astronaut Mark Kelly are adding to the understanding of long-term space travel by allowing NASA to conduct several investigations.  These investigations will provide better understanding about the subtle effects and changes that may occur in spaceflight as compared to Earth by studying two people who have the same genetics, but are in different environments for a whole year!  To learn more about this incredible journey, visit The One Year Mission.

Astronauts Inside 1

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) work on a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) inside the station’s Japanese Experiment Module. 

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

The ISS is a wonderful project that has allowed the United States to partner with many other countries to make advances in space exploration!  What will we learn next?  In this case, the sky is definitely not the limit!  


Blasting Off, 


Destination Pen Pal and Space Explorer


*Don’t forget to check out the cool videos and links at the bottom of the page to learn more about the amazing International Space Station and America’s role in space exploration!

Earth at Night from ISS

From the International Space Station, Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore took this photograph of the Great Lakes and central U.S. on Dec. 7, 2014

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Earth from ISS

Earth view from the International Space Station (ISS)

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Moon from ISS

View of the moon from the International Space Station (ISS)

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Earth from ISS 2

Panoramic views of clouds from the International Space Station (ISS)

Photo Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

“Our next large target is to develop a new frontier based on the pioneer spirit. I command our nation to construct a permanent manned space station within ten years.” –President Ronald Reagan, 1984

“We have to be plumbers, electricians, construction engineers, or workers, on the space station, but at the same time running a laboratory, being scientists, being the best laboratory assistants we can be. It’s all in a bundle; it’s very exciting, it’s a lot of fun.” -Thomas Marshburn, NASA Astronaut 


Cool Links and More:

The International Space Station (ISS)~How It Works: This is a great video documentary made by astronauts while on the ISS.  Learn about what life is like for the astronauts on the ISS and how they do everyday tasks!

StationLife: Learn more interesting facts about life on the space station with this fun video by NASA!

*Just for fun check out these videos from space.  You can find more on NASA Johnson’s YouTube Channel, The Canadian Space Agency and Videos from Space (see links at the bottom of the page).

How to Wash Your Hair in Space

How to Shave Your Head in Space

Space Station Stories~The One Year Mission: Learn about how astronauts are effected by living in space and how work on the International Space Station (ISS) is helping us prepare for longer missions into space with the One Year Mission!  Also see: A Year in Space

YouTube Vloggers Ask Astronaut Scott Kelly Questions in Space: To learn about the One Year Mission from Astronaut Scott Kelly, straight from the ISS!

To follow the progress of the mission click here: One Year Mission

Keep the explorer in you alive-never stop being curious!  To keep updated on NASA missions and news, subscribe to their YouTube Channel!   We also suggest Videos from Space and The Canadian Space Agency.


Dante, Guest Blog Contributor 


Dante is an America’s Destination Pen Pals guest blog contributor and Destination Pen Pal adventurer.  Dante has become very interested in the space exploration program here in the United States.  Over the past several months, Dante has explored NASA and recently started participating in a pilot program to become one of the first panthers in space.  He hopes to launch to Mars in his lifetime, or at least pave the way for the next explorer.  You can find out more about Dante and his Florida adventures with his recent adventure package from Florida.  We will keep you posted about his space exploration adventures too!

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