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Space Stations
When astronauts sleep in space, they are zipped into sleeping bags which are then attached to the walls of their spacecraft. This keeps them from floating around in their sleep.

Space stations are large orbiting satellites that stay in space for years at a time. Crews of astronauts take turns living and working in them. They usually stay for several weeks or months. Some have stayed for as long as a year.

The International Space Station


On May 14, 1973, the unmanned Skylab space station was launched by the United States. Skylab was designed to be a laboratory for astronauts and an airport for spacecraft. Three different crews of astronauts spent a total of more than 3,000 hours doing experiments while aboard Skylab. The effect living in space has on the human body was one of the areas of study. The Skylab crews spent a total of 171 days, 15 hours, and 14 minutes orbiting the Earth. They circled Earth 2,476 times. The Skylab space station re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up in 1979.


Russia's space station Mir orbited Earth for 15 years. During that time it was a home in space for astronauts from many different countries. Mir was made up of different parts called modules . The modules could be moved around like building blocks. Mir's size and shape could be changed to fit different experiments. The first module of space station Mir was launched in 1986. Mir orbited Earth for the last time on March 23, 2001.

International Space Station (ISS)

Currently in orbit, the ISS is the result of the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and eleven countries from the European Space Agency working together. When completed, it will be the biggest space station ever built. It will be about 356 feet across and 290 feet long! Orbiting high above the Earth, it can be reached by both the Space Shuttle and other spacecraft, so that astronauts and supplies can be delivered. The ISS has science laboratories which allow the astronauts to do experiments about medicines, building materials, and building better clocks. The ISS is also always watching the Earth for weather patterns and changes in the environment.

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A Question

What is the purpose of a space station?

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The Answer

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StarChild Authors: The StarChild Team
StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
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