back to article In Space, Still: 20 years since Russia hurled first bit of floating astronaut hostel into orbit

The International Space Station turned 20 this week as space agencies and 'nauts alike celebrated the anniversary of the launch of the first module of the ISS. The Functional Cargo Block (FGB) was launched on 20 November, 1998, signifying the start of ISS assembly. Also known as "Zarya" ("Dawn" in Russian) in reference to …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Pint

    This--->

  2. jake Silver badge

    Lame duck.

    "The current US administration has expressed a desire to end funding by 2025"

    I rather suspect the current administration will no longer be an issue come 2020.

  3. Korev Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: Lame duck.

    I rather suspect the current administration will no longer be an issue come 2020.

    I fear you're wrong

  4. ArrZarr Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Lame duck.

    I fear he's wrong as well, but I also suspect that 2025 is outside of the current administration's scope even if 2020 doesn't see a new resident of the White House.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    Shades of Mir?

    Shades of Space Station Freedom. And that didn't work out well for the original version of Trump's Presidency either.

  6. Spazturtle Silver badge

    Re: Lame duck.

    The ISS is getting old, the temperature change from being in full sunlight to being in full shade takes its toll on the metal. The Trump administration* actually decided to push the date back one year in order to guarantee 100% that it would not occur during Trump's presidency.

    *I doubt Trump actual makes decisions on things like this, some civil servant probably gave him a few option and he picked one at random Simpsons movie style

  7. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Re: Lame duck.

    Whatever helps you sleep at night Pal! But, perhaps the third time will be her charm? I kinda doubt it though.

  8. Julz

    Polyus/Skif/TKS

    Zarya looks a lot like a re-functioned service module from this beast that they had lying around after the program was canceled.

    http://www.astronautix.com/p/polyus.html

  9. wolfetone Silver badge

    Re: Polyus/Skif/TKS

    Well the initial stages of the ISS that came from Russia were originally intended to form the basis of Mir 2. So it's not a surprise to think it looked like that.

  10. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Happy

    If only we'd build Project Orion, we could get a decent space station into orbit in one piece.

    I propose that we launch from Skegness. Nobody would miss it. Or Paris...

  11. Julz

    The White House lawn?

  12. Michael Habel Silver badge
    Go

    The White House lawn?

    Ok but, I propose we wait until after Hillary (Your beloved Queen), actually becomes President! Then its (See Icon), time...

  13. Annihilator
    Joke

    "I propose that we launch from Skegness"

    Or, launch Skegness! Think about it, space tourism is the future and Skegness's tourism is in decline, so could be a winner.

  14. The Nazz Silver badge

    re Skegness

    Wish i'd bookmarked it then i could have provided a link, but somewhere back in the midst of time, i grabbed a photo of the universe (well, a large chunk of it, ok, a small chunk of it) with an arrow and label pointing to Skegness.

    Impressive.

  15. PhilBuk

    >>Or, launch Skegness! Think about it, space tourism is the future and Skegness's tourism is in decline, so could be a winner.

    You will just have to wait for the spindizzy to be invented. I can, however, think of more deserving places to be launched into space e.g. Slough.

    Phil.

  16. jake Silver badge
  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "Or Paris..."

    The French would vote for that!

    (The French don't see Parisians as French and generally don't think too much of them)

  18. jmch Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "I propose we wait until after Hillary..."

    Wow, you really can't comprehend that anyone could not like Trump and also not like Clinton? Hilary Clinton would most likely not have made a good President. Trump, of course, is quite possibly the worst ever president the US has ever had. But that still doesn't mean I, or many others, like Hilary. In fact I am flabbergasted that a nation of 300 million people arrived at a point where they had to choose between those 2.

  19. Cem Ayin
    Boffin

    "Floating"

    Nitpick: The ISS is not "floating" (i.e. experiencing lift due to buoyancy). Quite the contrary, in fact: it is falling (as evidenced by the microgravity conditions aboard). The reason that it is not colliding with earth is not lift but the fact that it has been carefully accelerated to move "sideways" (to wit: in an orbit) just fast enough to avoid ever hitting Earth while falling towards, or rather: around, it.

  20. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Re: "Floating"

    You should reconsider the icon, and instead use the Padantic one instead. -Just sayn'.

  21. Santa from Exeter
    Headmaster

    Re: "Floating"

    Pedantic

  22. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: "Floating"

    The reason that it is not colliding with earth is not lift but the fact that it has been carefully accelerated to move "sideways"

    In other words - falling towards earth but cleverly managing to miss?

  23. Red Bren
    Coat

    Re: "Floating"

    Surely it's travelling in a straight line through curved space-time?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Floating"

    Captain Pedantic here. Definitions for the "float" are not restricted to buoyant floating, but include definitions such as "not fixed in one position, place, or level". Since it is not anchored to another body in space, the ISS can indeed be said to be "floating in space".

    I would suggest that in this day and age, few people would actually attribute the ISS' maintenance of its altitude to buoyancy, especially amongst El Reg readers, but if there are any such befuddled souls present, I'm sure they will have benefited greatly from your explanation of free-fall.

  25. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Re: "Floating"

    This isn't flying, this is falling with style!

  26. Allonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    Re: "Floating"

    Sayin'

  27. Qwelak
    Happy

    Re: "Floating"

    To quote Douglas Adams :

    There is an art, or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

    So technically the ISS is flying not floating or falling

  28. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: "Floating"

    "The reason that it is not colliding with earth is not lift but the fact that it has been carefully accelerated to move "sideways" (to wit: in an orbit) just fast enough to avoid ever hitting Earth while falling towards, or rather: around, it."

    So, in reality, it's flying. The secret to flying, of course, is the art of falling while managing to miss the ground.

    (With thanks to the late, great Douglas Adams)

    Edit: Buggeration! I should have read on before replying! Beating by at least 4 others.

  29. Aqua Marina Silver badge

    Re: "Floating"

    “In other words - falling towards earth but cleverly managing to miss?”

    In other words.... falling with style!

    #toinfinityandbeyond

  30. tony72

    FGB

    In case, like me, you were wondering why the acronym for " Functional Cargo Block" is FGB rather than FCB, wikipedia tells me it stands for the Russian term "Funktsionalno-gruzovoy blok".

  31. The Nazz Silver badge

    Re: FGB

    Ha ha, did they call it "Funktsionalno-gruzovoy blok" to save on paying the USAians a licence fee for the copyright on the words functional and block?

    Shouldn't need to but here goes >>>> (was gonna insert a suitable icon here but they've gone).

  32. Valerion
    Joke

    $220m for 12m x 4m storage?

    That's getting close to Big Yellow Self Storage rates!

  33. pavel.petrman

    Re: $220m for 12m x 4m storage?

    Re: "Big Yellow Storage" - didn't you mean Bigelow?

  34. ThatOne Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    Sic transit gloria mundi

    > expressed a desire to end funding by 2025, effectively killing off the ISS

    Thus effectively killing the last remains of human presence in space... :-(

    A couple decades later the last remains of know-how to send a human in space will have been lost, and space will just be a commercial battlefield for clouds of cheap throw-away satellites offering increasingly pointless services.

    "So what" you might ask, "I don't need no stinking space."

    Well yes you do actually: The race to the moon has triggered technological progress we all profit from daily, in almost all aspects of our lives. When the only progress left is IoT-enabled flower pots we will know human civilization has gone into fatal decline.

  35. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi

    "Well yes you do actually: The race to the moon has triggered technological progress we all profit from daily"

    Despite having been an enthusiastic follower of both space programmes in my teens and for a while afterwards, I don't really believe that. Physicists and chemists started to get everything they wanted after WW2 because of the nuclear weapons race. It was that which made the space programmes possible.

    Teflon, often mentioned, was actually discovered before WW2. Aluminium and titanium alloys resulted from aircraft developments from about 1914 on.

    Voyna mat izobreteniya/war is the mother of invention.

  36. phuzz Silver badge

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi

    "Teflon, often mentioned, was actually discovered before WW2."

    It's first large scale use was in the Manhattan Project, to help stop all that nasty uranium hexafloride from leaking out of the gaseous diffusion plants.

    Communications satellites and satellite positioning systems are both useful benefits of the space program, although not from the manned side.

  37. Brangdon

    Re: last remains of know-how to send a human in space will have been lost

    I take it you are not following NASA's plan to launch humans into space next year? Or SpaceX plan to put humans on Mars within 10 years?

    ISS is ancient and falling apart. I'm all in favour of scrapping it and replacing it with something newer and in a more convenient orbit. By which I don't mean Lunar orbit like the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, but LEO. And cancel SLS and use the money to buy launches off SpaceX.

  38. A. Coatsworth
    Unhappy

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi

    A couple decades later the last remains of know-how to send a human in space will have been lost, and space will just be a commercial battlefield for clouds of cheap throw-away satellites offering increasingly pointless services.

    As usual, a painfully relevant XKCD: xkcd.com/893

  39. Sandtitz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi @ThatOne

    "Thus effectively killing the last remains of human presence in space"

    Not at all. There are 'remains'. And more are to come.

    Wiki: Ashes of Clyde Tombaugh are travelling within New Horizons towards interstellar space and a small capsule of Eugene Shoemaker's ashes are in the Moon, probably buried.

  40. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi

    "As usual, a painfully relevant XKCD: xkcd.com/893"

    $Deity, that is sad!

  41. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Re: Sic transit gloria mundi

    I have a t-shirt that says "We went from landing on the Moon to "This Bag Is Not A Toy" in 40 short years"

  42. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    When stargazing, I am always amazed to see the ISS pass overhead, usually fairly early in the evening, when still illuminated by the sun sitting just below the horizon. With my big 16x80 binoculars, it shows some resolved structure, although it is hard to keep in the field of view as it moves along at quite a clip.

    Whatever its problematic start, and doubtful future, it is an amazing achievement, and shows what we humans can achieve if we stop bickering for any length of time (or at least, bicker more productively). I'll raise a glass to all those who have contributed to this success.

  43. MrReal

    I often see the ISS sweep overhead too.

    However many of the interviews 'from the ISS' are green-screened from earth with VR tech because the interior of the ISS is a bit of a pig-stye.

  44. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "pig-stye."

    Is that a pig with an ocular infection?

  45. davemcwish

    Oh look there's the ISS

    As with Michael H.F. Wilkinson it is an amazing achievement. Sadly I can't see in my light polluted part of East London. I do however go a camping event every year and it's a joy to stand outside and spot the ISS with the naked eye.

  46. Chozo

    Out of this world

    Off-Planet file storage.. where do I sign up?

  47. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Re: Out of this world

    Storage above the cloud!

  48. 's water music Silver badge

    bunch of save icons

    damn, I'm too old to get that joke until I looked at the picture

  49. Tempest8008

    5 of those with one BFR

    Yeah, refusing to call it Starship. But a single SpaceX BFR would be able to loft the equivalent of 5.2 of those suckers at once.

    We need big lifters and a bloody origami expert to fit it all into a neat unfold-able package.

    Er....we also need the BFR to exist.

    You! Yes, you! Get on that...

  50. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Re: 5 of those with one BFR

    The could have rolled out 5 saturn 5 rockets, and used those to launch the entire thing....

    Sadly , the US government prefers to spend 600 billion on blowing shit up and complaining about the cost of NASA at about 22 billion.....

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