One of the station’s primary tasks would be to assemble vehicles for expeditions to the Moon. Mir was the first modular space station and was assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Since 1971, 11 space stations launched into a low orbit around Earth have been occupied for varying lengths of time. Rather, a single spacecraft would be obliged to ride an expendable rocket into orbit and fly directly to its goal. On a regular schedule, a fleet of commercial space planes flew people up to the station, from which they could catch a ferry to the Moon. Depending on its configuration, a space station can serve as a base for a variety of activities. Space historian and freelance writer, Glasgow, Scotland. Moreover, because some of the systems needed for a military reconnaissance platform were not yet available, it was decided to initiate the program with a station equipped as a scientific laboratory. Between 1952 and 1954, in a series of articles in the popular magazine Collier’s, the German-American rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun presented his vision of a space station as a massive wheel-shaped structure that would rotate to generate “artificial gravity” from centrifugal force, sparing its crew of 1,000 scientists and engineers the drawbacks of weightlessness. A space station’s operation, therefore, requires a transportation system to ferry crews and hardware and to replenish the propellant, air, water, food, and such other items as are consumed during routine operations. Which type of telescope is used for examining the moon and other planets of the solar system? Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? It would be serviced by a fleet of winged spaceships employing nuclear engines. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It's four times larger than the Russian space station MIR and five times larger than the U.S. station Skylab. To make the most efficient use of its carrier vehicle’s capacity, a space station is launched vacant, and its crew members—and sometimes additional equipment—follow in separate vehicles. The International Space Station photographed against the Rio Negro, Argentina, from the shuttle orbiter. https://www.britannica.com/technology/space-station, space station - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), space station - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, first space station, equipped for scientific studies; abandoned after its first crew died returning to Earth, military reconnaissance platform; suffered explosion after achieving orbit and was never occupied, scientific station; crippled after achieving orbit and was never occupied, first U.S. space station; successfully supported solar studies and biomedical experiments on the effects of weightlessness, scientific station; operated until its systems were exhausted, first second-generation Salyut, operated as highly successful scientific station; resident crews hosted a series of international visitors, problem-plagued follow-up to Salyut 6 that had to be repeatedly rescued, occupied March 14, 1986, to June 15, 2000 (continuously from September 7, 1989, to August 28, 1999), first space station assembled in orbit using individually launched, specialized modules; successfully applied lessons learned from Salyut program, astrophysics observatory with X-ray telescopes, supplementary life-support systems and large air lock, microgravity materials-processing laboratory, module with NASA apparatus and Earth-sciences sensors, international consortium, primarily U.S. and Russia, permanently occupied since November 2, 2000, modular, expandable station intended to serve world's space agencies for first quarter of 21st century, U.S.-funded, Russian-built module supplying initial solar power and attitude-control system, Russian-built habitat module and control centre, U.S.-built air lock, allowing station-based space walks for U.S. and Russian astronauts, Russian-built docking compartment, providing Soyuz docking port and additional air lock for Russian space walks, Module built by Bigelow Aerospace to test expandable module technology. Unlike previous stations, the Soviet space station Mir had a modular design; a core unit was launched, and additional modules, generally with a specific role, were later added to that. Space stations use large panels of solar cells and banks of storage batteries as their source of electrical power. INSIDER CONTENT. Get the latest news, images, videos and more from humanity's home in orbit -- the International Space Station. Video of Earth as seen from the International Space Station. These include observations of the Sun and other astronomical objects, study of Earth’s resources and environment, military reconnaissance, and long-term investigations of the behaviour of materials and biological systems—including human physiology and biochemistry—in a state of weightlessness, or microgravity. Richard M. Nixon canceled the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and restricted the Apollo Applications Program to a single station. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Updates? In 1969, with development running late for the large spacecraft that was to ferry crews and supplies to the station, Soviet officials decided to accelerate the program by employing the Soyuz spacecraft that had been developed during the failed attempt to win the Moon race. One NASA plan was to have an Apollo spacecraft dock with a spent rocket stage, whereupon its crew would pressurize the rocket’s empty hydrogen-propellant tank with air and install scientific equipment that would turn it into a laboratory for several weeks of occupancy.