The International Space Station (ISS) is a low-flying research facility jointly operated by the space agencies of the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan, and eleven European countries. It was assembled piece by piece in space, starting with a Russian module put into orbit in November, 1998. The first crew arrived two years later. Over fifty missions will be required to assemble the entire thing. Completion is scheduled for 2010.
The NASA-supported Classroom of the Future is a multimedia resource for both students and teachers. Start with the mouseover tour of ISS components such as the habitation module, solar arrays and the service module. Then discover the outstanding science activities filed under Life Science, Physical Science, and Technology. "Welcome to Farming in Space. This activity enables you to design and run a student version of plant growth experiments flown aboard the International Space Station." Each activity contains Teacher Notes in addition to student material.
The first features that caught my eye were the Interactives such as the Spacewalk ("Put on your spacesuit and tackle your very own mission.") and Who Does What (see how each participating country pitches in.) Other worthwhile clicks include The Construction Timeline (from 1999 to 2006) and the IPIX-powered Enter the Station. Unfortunately, I had problems with the IPIX viewer, and had to try several browsers before getting it to work with Internet Explorer. Also, most of the files in the Video Gallery have gone MIA.
"Imagine waking up in the morning, looking out your window and seeing this view. Breathtaking, isn't it? What would it be like to live in space?" In six illustrated, hyperlinked pages, How Stuff Works introduces the space station concept in general, and the International Space Station in specific. Best clicks are the pages about "Sustaining a Permanent Environment in Space" and "Propulsion, Communications and Power." Related space articles (How Space Suits Work, How Space Shuttles Work) are listed at the end.
I can't possibly summarize all the great content NASA provides on their ISS pages, so here are just of few of my favorite sections. Station Science explains all the experiments being carried out on the ISS. Multimedia houses all the video and image galleries. For news on individual space shuttle missions, mouse over to Space Station Section. And for details on seeing the ISS when it flies over your neighborhood, click on "See the ISS in the Night Sky." This section also includes lots of great tips on hosting a star party.
"The Space Station is the largest manned object ever sent into space, encompassing 43,000 cubic feet of living and working space - the equivalent of two Boeing 747's" Even though this PBS television documentary is eight-years old, the companion website is still worth a visit. Highlights are the interactive quiz in See and Do, ten surprising ISS facts (in The Station), and Living in Space (also in The Station.)