Image of the Day: The ISS turns 15

On November 20, 1998, the module in the above pic, Zarya (Russian for "dawn"), became the first orbiting piece of the International Space Station. Fifteen years on, the ISS is still not technically finished: by April of next year, we're expecting delivery of an extra robot arm from Europe, plus a Russian multipurpose laboratory module, and then that should be the end of it.

To date, the ISS has cost the world about $150 billion, which breaks down to about $7.5 million per astronaut spending time up there, per day. This sounds like a lot of money, but if you consider what else humans blow money on (like, I dunno, excessive amounts of junk food, or finding more efficient ways of blowing up other humans), it's really a good deal. And it'll become an even better deal, as the experience we get in orbit will open up new avenues of space exploration, taking us back to the Moon, to asteroids, to Mars, and beyond.

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Via Georgia Tech

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