NASA

15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About The International Space Station 

Mike Rothschild
Updated April 24, 2020 46.4k views 15 items

What is the International Space Station? Only humanity's largest and most expensive attempt to spend long periods of time in space! As such, it's a technical marvel, featuring sophisticated computers and laboratory instruments, miles of wire, and state-of-the-art accommodations for the crew. What happens on the ISS? What kinds of discoveries are being made up there, and how did it get up there in the first place? What's daily life like for the astronauts? It's time to find out!

The history of ISS is full of stories, from its beginnings featuring dozens of flights just to build it, to the current experiments it runs, to the quirks that each astronaut brings with them into orbit. ISS crew members have done everything from conduct sophisticated research to brew coffee. They've brought international foods, recorded songs, and taken countless pictures (and yes, even selfies). The best part? This has all been done in a spirit of international cooperation unmatched in history.

Here are some cool International Space Station facts, both about the station itself and the astronauts who have spent time on it.

It Took 136 Flights To Put It Together
It Took 136 Flights To P... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About The International Space Station
Photo:  MarcelClemens/Shutterstock

Needless to say, building something of the size, stature, and ambition of the International Space Station was no easy - or quick - feat. In fact, it took seven types of launch vehicles 136 flights to get it done - not to mention the human tallies of 159 EVAs (extravehicular activities) and more than 1,000 spacewalk hours.

It Gets Computer Viruses Just Like Your Laptop Does
It Gets Computer Viruses... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About The International Space Station
Photo:  FrameStockFootages/Shutterstock

Even the International Space Station isn't immune to technological vulnerabilities - even computer viruses. In 2008, a malware infection hit the ISS after Russian cosmonauts carried infected USB storage devices on board, spreading the infection all over the station and even to ground control. NASA said the virus was not an unprecedented event, but that it was not common.

It's The Most Expensive Single Thing Humans Have Ever Made
It's The Most Expensive ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About The International Space Station
Photo:  NASA Images/Shutterstock

Other projects on the whole have cost more money (looking at you, trillion dollar F-35 fighter plane), but the ISS is the most expensive individual object ever made - costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 billion.

Its Crew Has Experimented On Everything From Fire To Zucchini
Its Crew Has Experimente... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Out-Of-This-World Facts About The International Space Station
Photo:  Artsiom Petrushenka/Shutterstock

ISS is the biggest laboratory in space, allowing astronauts to conduct micro-gravity experiments on a daily basis that would be almost impossible on Earth. Many involve testing the long-term effects of weightlessness, such as Commander Scott Kelly's attempt to spend a full year on the station.

Other experiments have involved implanting mouse embryos, putting out fire, growing zucchini, keeping detailed journals, using high-tech shoes, and of course, cultivating ant colonies.