November 2 marked the 10th anniversary of human habitation at the International Space Station, meaning that humans have been living in space for more than two decades.
The ISS has been continuously lived in since Nov. 2, 2000, when Expedition 1 commander Bill Shepherd and flight engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko became the first residents. Since then, 200 explorers have visited, 15 nations have contributed modules and hardware, and more than 600 experiments have been conducted.
The ISS’ greatest achievements may be yet to come. In February, astronauts will install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02, designed to detect dark matter and uncover the secrets of the origins of the universe. The station is built to last through 2020. Beyond that, its future could be as a base camp for expeditions to the moon, Mars, or an asteroid mission.
It is a bittersweet anniversary as the end of our Shuttle program looms. I hope that our foray into privatizing of the space program starts to bare fruit soon.