Research, Technology

How much is the most expensive space station and how did it start

Everyone knows that space is expensive, and how nottry to make it cheaper, we won't be able to make it truly affordable for many years to come. So let's stay realistic. Probably, if you ask you which human creation in space turned out to be the most expensive, many will no doubt name the correct answer. Others will give a more general answer, but in general they will still be right. The most expensive space object to date is the familiar International Space Station or simply the ISS. This is a masterpiece of engineering and human ingenuity. $100 billion was spent on this project. Even if every inhabitant of the planet, including babies and old people, chipped in 10 dollars, this would still not be enough to build such a monumental structure. It all started in 1998 and soon the project will be 25 years old. Up to this point, there is still about a year, but for now let's just talk about this creation - there is simply no other way to call it.

The space station is comparable in complexity to a large city. It's just that it's quite compact.


  • 1 How much does the ISS cost and how much is it
  • 2 Work on the ISS
  • 3 When did the construction of the ISS begin?
  • 4 The world's first space station
  • 5 First US space station
  • 6 First repair of the station in orbit
  • 7 Freedoom Space Stations and Mir
  • 8 Saving the Russian space industry
  • 9 Cooperation between Russia and the United States in space
  • 10 How countries agreed to build the ISS
  • 11 The first crew on the ISS
  • 12 How important was the ISS in the history of space

How much does the ISS cost and how much is it

Just let's once again realize the cost of the project. It has already spent about $ 100 billion. With zeros, this sum looks like this − 100,000,000,000. If you take such a sum of money in banknotes according to100 dollars, its weight will be 1,000 tons. So, just purely for understanding, I will add that the ISS itself weighs in the region of 430-440 tons. That is, the money spent on its creation weighs more than twice the size of the station itself.

And another 100 billion you can buy approximately 300,000 McLaren supercars with a price of about 300 thousand dollars (we will round up, becausein this case, the accuracy is not so important). In the Czech Republic, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and some other countries, fewer cars are sold per year. The length of this car is 4.6 meters. Let's imagine a traffic jam of such cars that stand at a distance of 40 centimeters from each other. The length of this tube will be 1500 kilometers (almost the same from Moscow to Sochi or from Moscowto Minsk and back). The ISS is in orbit at a distance of just over 400 kilometers, that is, its distance from the Earth's surface is 4 times less than our hypothetical traffic jam. Of course, the calculations are approximate, but you understand the essence of this huge amount. This is so, from the field of entertaining mathematics and unusual facts.

300,000 of these McLaren 720s cost about the same as the ISS. The same number of new cars in total is sold in the Czech Republic per year.

Work on the ISS

At mission control centers around the world - inHouston, Queen and Munich - a reality show is played daily on giant screens. This is the most boring reality show you've ever seen. There is nothing here but a slowly ongoing and carefully planned process of the operation of the station.

In 2000, the ISS became permanently habitable for the first time.. Russian, American, Japanese, Canadian andEuropean cosmonauts and astronauts lived and worked together at an altitude of 400 kilometers above the Earth. Perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of the ISS is that the station has made space routine and even boring.

However, we must not perceive the obvious successISS as a matter of course, or imagine that space travel is as simple as it seems. And when you investigate the story of how we got a giant orbiting laboratory that orbits the planet every 90 minutes, you realize that the creation of the ISS is a miracle in itself.

This is how the main mission control center (MCC) of Russia in the city of Korolev looks like.

When did they start building the ISS?

First segment was launched into orbit on November 20, 1998 spacecraft Zarya.And the very idea of ​​a space station originated more than a century ago. This is a logical step for space civilizations between single missions to orbit and longer missions to the Moon and Mars. As the space age dawned in the 1950s, visionaries like Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev developed a concept that envisioned a permanently occupied space station as a springboard for deep space travel.

5 facts about the Russian space station, which will replace the ISS.

The world's first space station

After the first successful flight to the moon, bigwigsspace decided that the station definitely needed to be built, but it would not work out so quickly, and the USSR won this part of the race by launching the Salyut-1 station into orbit on April 19, 1971. She became the world's first space station. But in order to save on its provision (delivery of astronauts, cargo and equipment), reusable ships were needed, since it was necessary to fly often. This is how the projects of shuttles and Buran appeared.

This is what the Salyut-1 station looked like

It took only two months fora crew of three moored to Salyut-1 and settled above the Earth. The astronauts spent three weeks living and working in a 20-meter cylinder, setting a new space record for flight duration. Although, probably, this was the first time when it was difficult to call it a flight.

On June 29, three cosmonauts boarded theirSoyuz spacecraft to return to Earth. But when entering the Earth's atmosphere, a tragedy occurred. The valve failed, which eventually sucked the air out of the descent capsule. Without spacesuits, the crew died in just seconds. But no one knew about this until the moment when the ground support service opened the hatch of the spacecraft.

First US space station

American space station programconsisted of huge Saturn V rockets and modern Apollo space capsules. In fact, all this was brought together and received a project to create its own station in orbit.

Skylab was vital to supportrekindling interest in a more permanent station. Instead of designing each element, we just took what existed and turned it into something that you could use for another purpose— David Baker says, a former NASA engineer who worked on the Apollo, Shuttle, and space station programs.

This station allowed the crew to stay in it for three months, and everything needed was inside, including a shower.

Two full-fledged laboratories were builtSkylab, but only one is running. The second today holds pride of place in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington. There you can even go inside the never launched laboratory, feeling like a real astronaut. Excuse me, astronaut. This is the USA. By the way, it tells how astronauts differ from astronauts and provides several interesting articles on the topic.

The fate of Skylab turned out to be crumpled, but the idea was good.

Inside the Skylab, museum visitors may noticea design that owes more to sci-fi notions of what a space station should look like than to the cluttered reality of the ISS. Maybe Elon Musk was inspired by this when creating the cockpit of his Dragon?

For nine months, Skylab lived and workedthree crews. However, the first mission was to be one of the most difficult NASA has ever undertaken. It is always difficult for pioneers, especially when it is necessary to solve specific problems that have arisen in orbit.

The ISS crew escaped from space debris on the Soyuz and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The first repair of the station in orbit

During the launch of Skylab on May 14, 1973, a protectivethe screen and one of the solar arrays on the side of the lab were cut away, while the other solar array was only partially deployed. The space station was losing power and dangerously overheating. When, 11 days later, the first team, led by Pete Conrad, one of those who had been on the moon, landed, their first task was to save the station.

Working at temperatures over 50 degreesCelsius, they managed to deploy a hastily sewn sun visor through the airlock. A few days later, during an impromptu spacewalk, Conrad and Joe Kerwin freed the stuck solar array.

Peter Conrad - First Crew Commander on Skylab

The salvage proved the feasibility of repairs in space, an experience that later came in handy with the Hubble telescope and the Mir space stations and the ISS.

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Space stations Freedoom and Mir

In the 80s, the United States is preparing to launch anotherstation - Freedom. Her design was certainly ambitious. In addition to a laboratory, living quarters, and a fully equipped infirmary, the modular structure included a satellite repair shop and was designed to serve as a springboard for further expeditions to the Moon or Mars.

From the very beginning the program did not go so well,as envisioned by then-President Ronald Reagan, who was actively promoting the idea of ​​the station. Europe, Canada and Japan helped in the work, but even so there were many problems. It took about four years just to agree on the final version of the station. In the USSR, things were a little better at this stage.

Despite investing more than $8 billion,the engineers essentially had nothing to offer. And the main political essence of the station was also lost - to prove the power of the Western world in front of the USSR. The Iron Curtain was rapidly collapsing and there was already nothing special to prove and no one.

Now Energy is a modern self-sufficient enterprise. But in the early 90s, everything was very difficult.

Saving the Russian space industry

However, while Freedoom is mired inbureaucracy, space crews from different countries have been living at the Mir station for several years. In fact, this was the first International Space Station. However, with the final collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Russian space industry was severely short of money. The economy was in such a state that the country's space program could completely come to naught.

Astronauts who went into outer space were first seen from Earth.

Then the United States decided at all costs to keepspace industry in Russia. Not out of good intentions, but solely for the sake of profit. This made it easier to keep moving forward without losing development or losing it to third parties. A lot of dubious things were done then, but the partnership turned out to be quite profitable in some way.

The money was mainly received by the Energia corporation,launched the first man and woman into space, as well as built the Mir space station. Now it was a private company and more than ever needed money to operate. And the order of the amounts that were needed, we have already determined at the beginning of the article.

The Mir station was large and breakthrough for its time. As part of the cooperation, American ships were sent to her. But later it was decided to deorbit and flood.

Cooperation between Russia and the United States in space

So Russian cosmonauts began to fly onshuttles, and the American ones visited the Mir station. On February 3, 1994, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev joined the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery on an eight-day orbital flight. A year later, astronaut Norman Thagard on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft spent 115 days on Mir, and on June 29, 1995, the Atlantis shuttle docked with the Russian space station.

But Mir was then outdated and it was necessarydo something. There was a project to create the Mir-2 station, but both sides agreed that building two stations (Mir-2 and Freedoom) would be long, expensive, difficult and unpromising - it’s easier to create a joint project. And so they did.

So The ISS has become, in fact, the legacy of the "Mir", forcing the American and Russian spacespace industries to work together despite decades of tense confrontation. Again, the collaboration was not charitable. Both sides had their own specific benefits.

Dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of people from different countries worked on the creation of the ISS.

However, merging the two programs proved difficult.There were people in the US who treated Russia like junior partners who lost in the Cold War and did not accept their deeper knowledge and experience. Russia has struggled with delays caused by a lack of money and the resulting aging infrastructure.

What is the Cold War and why is it dangerous

How countries agreed to build the ISS

Other countries that have joined Freedom, butnow part of the ISS felt uncomfortable being sidelined for the sake of diplomatic expediency. However, representatives from 15 countries met in Washington to sign an agreement to establish the ISS: an equal partnership between nations in space. At least that's what it was supposed to be in theory. I'll leave it up to you to discuss whether it worked or not.

Nobody said that to build a giant 420-ton structure at an altitude of 400 kilometers above the Earth, intended for permanentliving people will be easy. Several teams in different countries, speaking different languages, had to design and build tens of thousands of components and coordinate them with each other. The mere fact that American engineering used British units of measure, while Russian and European engineers used the metric system, already introduced many problems. At the same time, it was still necessary to avoid conflicts that are inevitable when the division of money and fame begins.

After the construction of the section, the ISS had to be launched and assembled in orbit in sequence. They did, but Columbia shuttle disaster had a strong impact on the speed of work. However, it continued, and the engineers continued to heroically find a way out of difficult situations.

What happened to the Nauka module that turned the ISS 45 degrees.

First crew on the ISS

October 31, 2000 the first permanent crew started on the Soyuz tofresh ISS - at this stage it was nothing more than a cylinder drifting in the void. In February 2001, six more construction companies were added to the American laboratory Destiny. Assembly pace picked up, with the Space Shuttle playing a critical role in delivering, positioning, and connecting the modules. This is where the trouble happened with the Columbia spacecraft, which broke apart during atmospheric entry, resulting in all seven astronauts died on board, and the Shuttle program was frozen. It was a big blow, given that it was these space trucks that did the main job of delivering components to orbit.

Colombian international crew who died on re-entry.

At this stage, there was even talk of stop building the ISS, but the work continued, and the delivery of components and crews began to be fully carried out by Russian spacecraft.

The station was almost completed. February 24, 2011 In the same year, astronaut Barratt made one of the last flights of the shuttle - the last for Discovery. A few days later, he and Italian European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli used a manipulator to move the last main section of the ISS, the Leonardo module. It was installed in its place and work on the station could be considered completed. At least temporarily.

It was a little emotional.I was able to get this thing out of the spacecraft's cargo bay with a Canadian arm, and it was just great to see it in space with the Earth underneath. I thought I didn't want to spoil everything - says Barratt.

Six people currently live and work in orbit. It is believed that there is no politics there and all mission members communicate normally with each other, but, as we understand, in modern realities this only possible on paper. And Russia's participation in the ISS project still seems rather vague. Nevertheless, one cannot fail to note the diplomatic role of the ISS, which it played even before its creation.

What is the significance of the ISS in the history of space

From the point of view of science, the station is also successful.Astronauts now spend most of their workweek as technicians in orbit, and space station research has resulted in the publication of several hundred scientific papers.

The price of the project, which we indicated at the beginning,is exemplary. For so many years, the value of money has already changed, it is difficult to calculate which expenses to include in the estimate, and simply no one will remember what was there. But $ 100 billion - This is the price that you can focus on. This is the money paid by the countries included in the project, including Russia and the United States.

Despite the contribution of other countries, it was the cooperation between Russia and the United States, and before that the rivalry between the USSR and the United States, that most contributed to space exploration.

Now no one knows how long the operation of the station will last, although, probably, 10 years she will definitely work in orbit. The ISS is made according to the principle of the designer. So, you can change its modules and complete them. So, you can wait for something else interesting. Naturally, for a tidy sum.

It took over 50 yearsto make the dream of a space station come truereality, but it was worth it. Let's see what will happen to the station further, but so far it is the most expensive project in space, the most advanced station and a symbol of space exploration. The conquest of space by all earthlings, and not just by two powers that tried to prove something to each other at the dawn of space exploration.