International Space Station sees 12 consecutive years of habitation

Today marks the 12th anniversary of "continuous presence in space" aboard NASA's International Space Station. The first component of the ISS was launched into space in 1998, but it wasn't until two years later when the first humans officially set foot into the Space Station — cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev, and NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd.

Since then, the International Space Station has been habited with astronauts and cosmonauts for 12 years now. People from 16 different countries have set foot into the ISS, and have continually been building on and improving the ISS since its launch. The International Space Stations travels around the Earth at approximately 17,500 mph, and has seen over 70,000 sunrises and sunsets.

The previous record for the longest time a spacecraft has been continuously habited with humans was the Mir space station, which occupied astronauts and cosmonauts for almost 10 years and orbited the Earth from 1986 to 2001, when the International Space Station eventually started to take over in 2000. The ISS orbits approximately 225 miles above the Earth, and completes almost 16 orbits around the Earth per day.

The most recent mission to the ISS was the privately-funded SpaceX Dragon capsule, which delivered around 1,000 pounds of various goods to the Space Station. More SpaceX missions are planned for the ISS in the future, and the ISS itself is expected to remain in orbit as late as 2028.

[via Michael Interbartolo]