The International Space Station is a monumental scientific project that is so large and so costly that it takes the joint effort of sixteen different nations to get it together. The coming together of the this plan and the ISS is huge. So, let’s take a look at phase one of the ISS.
ISS Phase One is called “The Shuttle-Mir Program.” This phase is key to all that has happened since.
So, when did Phase One start and what is it?
Well, in a nut shell the first phase of the International Space Station, which, as mentioned earlier is called the Shuttle-Mir Program, began in 1995. It required more than two years of continuous stays by astronauts aboard the Russian Mir Space Station and nine Shuttle-Mir docking missions. It is through these missions and stays that much of our current and most up-to-date knowledge was gained in technology, international space operations and scientific research. However, this is putting it simply.
Let’s take a closer look
During phase one of the International Space Station, seven U.S. astronauts spent a cumulative total of thirty two months aboard Mir. The living quarters are fully equipped for long term stay, and during these months they were able to do much research.
There has been twenty-eight months of continuous occupancy since March 1996. This is monumental because this was done in the matter of a little over a few years, and no one else has been able to do this alone. In fact, it took the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet more than a dozen years and sixty flights to achieve an accumulated one year in orbit. So, as you can see this is huge.
So what is the big deal about the ISS phase one?
The big deal is that it laid the groundwork to show that it is possible to have extended time study in space. While research about space is limited and lacking because of the fact that you have to create your own atmosphere, take everything you need for extended living with you, and create energy and electricity, ISS made it possible. The good thing is that many of the research programs planned for the International Space Station benefit from longer stay times in space, and the ISS makes that possible. The U.S. science program aboard the Mir was a pathfinder for more ambitious experiments planned for the new station.
Also, the ISS is a big money saver for individual countries because it is a group effort. In fact, in the above mentioned phase, for less than two percent of the total cost of the International Space Station program, NASA gained knowledge and experience they could not have gotten otherwise. The research done and information gained through Shuttle-Mir could not be achieved any other way without great expense.
Besides that, phase one was invaluable because of what it taught the various countries about working together. For example, the phase one mission provided valuable experience in international crew training activities: the operation of an international space program, and the challenges of long duration spaceflight for astronauts and ground controllers. Dealing with the real-time challenges experienced during Shuttle-Mir missions also has resulted in an unprecedented cooperation and trust between the U.S. and Russian space programs, and that cooperation and trust has enhanced the development of the International Space Station.
As you can see, without phase one and the results of it, we would not be where we are today with space research or the ISS.