[ti:Space Station Marks 20 Years of People Living in Orbit]
[00:00.04]The International Space Station
[00:02.04]was just three small rooms when the first crew moved in.
[00:07.88]The crew members soon discovered
[00:10.48]there was hardly any space for them to move around.
[00:15.88]The air was warm and humid, making them feel sticky.
[00:23.08]Twenty years and 241 visitors later,
[00:26.76]the space station has a lookout tower,
[00:29.84]enough space for six people to sleep
[00:33.12]and 12 rooms, depending on how you count.
[00:38.44]Monday marked 20 years
[00:40.96]since people first began living on the space station.
[00:46.28]Astronauts from 19 countries have spent time there.
[00:52.04]That includes repeat visitors who arrived on spacecraft
[00:56.44]for short-term repair or building projects,
[01:00.12]and several tourists who paid their own way.
[01:05.56]The first crew — American Bill Shepherd
[01:09.04]and Russians Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko
[01:13.16]— left Earth on October 31, 2000.
[01:18.56]Two days later, they opened the doors to the space station,
[01:23.72]holding hands in a sign of unity.
[01:28.64]Bill Shepherd was the space station's first commander.
[01:33.64]He likened his time living there to living on a ship at sea.
[01:40.60]The three-man crew spent most of their time
[01:43.68]trying to get the equipment to work;
[01:47.52]heat from some of the devices made the living space too warm.
[01:54.40]Adding machinery and making repairs took hours,
[01:58.68]compared to minutes on the ground, Krikalev remembered.
[02:04.92]"Each day seemed to have its own set of challenges,"
[02:08.96]Shepherd said during a recent panel discussion
[02:12.24]with his former crewmates.
[02:15.40]Their reunion was organized by NASA, the U.S. space agency.
[02:23.08]Today the space station is almost as large as a football field
[02:28.28]and has three modern laboratories.
[02:32.16]The station has enough solar power equipment
[02:35.44]to fill almost four-tenths of a hectare,
[02:39.04]and enough electrical wiring to stretch 13 kilometers.
[02:46.20]Shepherd is long retired from NASA
[02:49.20]and lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
[02:53.72]Krikalev and Gidzenko continue to work for the Russian space agency.
[03:00.44]The two were involved in the launch of the space station's 64th crew last month.
[03:08.44]The first thing the first crew did upon arriving
[03:12.28]at the darkened space station on November 2, 2000,
[03:17.00]was turn on the lights, which Krikalev recalled as "very memorable."
[03:24.08]Then they heated water for hot drinks and activated the lone toilet.
[03:32.00]"Now we can live," Gidzenko remembers Shepherd saying.
[03:36.56]"We have lights, we have hot water, and we have (a) toilet."
[03:43.20]The space station did not come close to hitting any space objects
[03:47.84]during their nearly five months up there, Shepherd said,
[03:52.16]and the station has held up relatively well.
[03:57.12]Today NASA's top concern is the growing threat from space junk.
[04:04.24]This year, the space station has had to move around objects three times.
[04:11.20]As for life on the space station,
[04:13.56]astronauts now have near-continuous communication with flight controllers
[04:18.92]and even an internet phone for personal use.
[04:24.24]The first crew had periodic radio contact with the ground;
[04:28.96]communication problems could last hours.
[04:33.88]Astronauts spend most of their six-month stints these days
[04:38.72]keeping the space station running and performing science experiments.
[04:44.96]A few have even spent close to a year up there on a single flight.
[04:51.40]It takes only 90 minutes for the station to circle the world,
[04:56.48]giving crew members a chance to enjoy 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day.
[05:06.32]While more men have served on the space station than women,
[05:10.72]more crews today are likely to include women.
[05:16.24]Two U.S. women have served as the space station's commander.
[05:22.52]Commanders usually are American or Russian,
[05:26.88]but have also come from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
[05:35.68]Monday was a major anniversary for the International Space Station.
[05:42.40]But the space station has, in fact, spent 22 years in Earth's orbit,
[05:49.32]and its first piece was launched into space in 1998.
[05:56.84]NASA and its partners say the space station easily
[06:01.56]has several years of usefulness left.
[06:05.92]Russia's Mir station operated for 15 years in the late 1980s and 1990s.
[06:15.12]America's 1970s Skylab spent much less time in space,
[06:21.44]as did China's much more recent orbital missions.
[06:27.36]Shephard said that the past 20 years of international experience and cooperation
[06:34.44]can help massive projects, like possibly sending humans to the planet Mars.
[06:42.56]"If you look at the space station program today,
[06:46.00]it's a blueprint on how to do it," Shepherd said.
[06:50.72]"All those questions about how this should be organized
[06:54.56]and what it's going to look like,
[06:56.80]the big questions are already behind us."
[07:01.48]I'm Jonathan Evans. 更多听力请访问51VOA.COM