The International Space Station has made its 100,000th orbit around the Earth.
The orbital station has now traveled about 2.6 billion miles since its launch in 1998, or “roughly the distance between Earth and Neptune” and the “equivalent of about 10 round trips between Earth and Mars at the average distance between the two planets,” NASA said in a statement Monday.
The station travels at 17,500 miles per hour, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. Its residents experience 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. Here’s the sunset from Sunday night, courtesy of NASA astronaut Jeff Williams:
The first components of the ISS were launched in November 1998 as part of a joint construction project of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and members of the European Space Agency. The station was assembled piece by piece, module by module. Today, it’s slightly larger than a football field, and provides the living space of a six-bedroom house. People have lived and worked there continually since 2000. The first crew— two Russian cosmonauts and one American—stayed for four months. The ISS has largely escaped the effects of political disagreements between the U.S. and Russia, making it one of the few places in the universe where Moscow and Washington can agree.
There are six people aboard the ISS: Williams; his fellow NASA astronaut Tim Kopra; Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko, Oleg Skripochka, and Alexey Ovchinin, and the first British astronaut, Tim Kopra.