International Space Station Celebrates 100,000th Orbit Around Earth

May 17, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

The International Space Station
Photo credit: NASA

The station has now traveled a distance equivalent of ten round trips to Mars.

The International Space Station achieved a cosmic milestone on Monday morning (May 16) with the celebration of its 100,000th orbit around our planet.

“This is a significant milestone and is a tribute to this international partnership made up of the European Space Agency, of Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States,” US flight engineer Jeff Williams said from the station in a video tribute posted by NASA.

The ISS was first launched on 20 November 1998 and has been orbiting Earth ever since. With orbital speeds of 17,500 miles (28,164 kilometers) per hour, it takes the ISS just 90 minutes to complete one orbit at an altitude of 240 miles (386 kilometers). The station has now traveled for more than 2.64 billion miles (4.25 billion kilometers), which is roughly the distance of 10 round trips to Mars. Since the launch of the ISS, 226 people have been onboard from 15 different countries.  

RELATED: Space Debris Hit the International Space Station Causing Small Crack in Window

The ISS is first and foremost a research vessel, and since its launch, numerous space experiments have been conducted onboard.

The astronauts share their living quarters with mouse, bacterial colonies, fungi and lichens, even flowers. More than 1900 experiments have been carried out on the ISS to date, all to help us understand how humanity could one day transform another planet, or venture beyond our solar system.

Scott Kelly, an American Astronaut who spent a record-breaking 340 days onboard the ISS, went on Reddit earlier this year to answer questions from users wanting to learn about his time onboard the ISS. You can read his answers here.

The ISS is set to remain in operation until 2024, with all major countries involved, except for the European Union, expected to continue financing the mission till that date.

Read next: Will NASA Abandon the ISS?

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