Visitors to the International Space Station by country. Image courtesy NASA. For a larger version of this image please go here.
In November, we are putting the “international” in the International Space Station by focusing on the global partnerships that enable the out-of-this-world orbiting laboratory. These same partnerships also are supporting economic development of low-Earth orbit by creating a growing commercial marketplace in space.
An exciting side note to all of this is that on Nov. 2, we celebrated 15 years of continuous human presence aboard the space station. Follow us throughout the month to learn how this international collaboration is making a lasting impact off the Earth, for the Earth.
Much of the research conducted aboard the space station is shared between the space agencies that operate it. An international partnership of space agencies provides and operates the elements of the space station.
The partner agencies whose collaboration on the space station has resulted in benefits for all of humankind include the Canadian Space Agency, or CSA; the European Space Agency, or ESA; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA; the Russian Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos; and NASA.
More than 1,760 research investigations from researchers in more than 83 countries and areas have been conducted to date on the orbiting laboratory. These studies increase our understanding of technology and educational activities, and in multiple science disciplines, including human health, physical science, biology and biotechnology, and Earth and space science.
The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated the U.S segment of the station as a national laboratory. The lack of gravity inside the space station and extreme environment of space outside the orbiting outpost create new possibilities for research.
In addition to government partners, these qualities invite commercial discovery and applied research that may result in tangible benefits across a wide range of industries.
NASA’s Human Research Program leverages assets through national and international collaborations to predict, assess and solve problems that humans encounter in space. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is operated by a truly global network of researchers from Taiwan to Italy to the United States.
The AMS is a cosmic ray particle physics detector located on the exterior of the space station that detects antimatter particles that could provide clues in the search for dark matter. Many other scientific studies are enabled by a group of researchers elevating their research to new heights through international cooperation.
With so many exciting new scientific discoveries on the horizon, fostered by an international collaboration in orbit, you will want to stay tuned as the International Space Station continues to work off the Earth, for the Earth.