The International Space Station (ISS) is 450 metric tons of super charged, multinational, high-grade technological wizardry. It has been merrily bombing around this planet at about 17,000 mph (which is 12 times the speed of a bullet coming out of the end of an assault rifle) for about 11 years.
The ISS has been constantly manned and currently has six people chilling in it. It flies, well, more technically – it falls, at between 205 and 255 miles above our shiny little heads, and whizzes round this watery rocky more than 15 times a day.
Amazing stats aside, the real wonder of the ISS is that you can see it from earth, regularly. It appears as a swollen bright dot in the clear night sky, wending a merry arc across the black.
You don’t need a telescope or binoculars, just your naked eyes. The ISS passes over at slightly different angles every fly past, and, at most, it only takes about 3 or 4 minutes to nip from the West horizon to the East. I recommend taking a glimpse one clear night.
Yes, it’s just a tiny, insignificant, glowing micro-orb, but when you realise it is a chunk of man made gubbins that’s carrying real live humans on it at 7,706 meters per second, it takes a different feel. It’s 100m long. Not small. Linford Christie, a few years ago, could have run the length of it in under 10 seconds, but that is still a sizable beast, no?
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