The International Space Station (ISS) hit a milestone on Monday.
According to ABC News, Nov. 2 marks the 15th anniversary of continuous human habitation on the ISS.
The six crew members currently onboard the station celebrated the occasion in tandem with staff members of NASA and its global partners on Earth. The ISS crew members, hailing from Russia, Japan and the United States, enjoyed a celebratory dinner at their post 250 miles above their home planet.
The most valuable lessons coming from research on the ISS, according to mission commander Scott Kelly, are the advancements of knowledge that may be of use for long-term space exploration. Fellow astronaut Kjell Lindgren agrees.
“The space station really is a bridge. It’s a test bed for the technologies that we need to develop and understand in order to have a successful trip to Mars,” Lindgren said.
Over the course of its 15 years of occupancy, the ISS has seen 220 residents from 17 countries.
“It has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 15 countries collaborate to advance shared goals,” Charles Bolden of NASA said.
The station has grown from three rooms to 13 with an overall mass of nearly one million pounds. NASA reports that the ISS has seen over 1,760 experiments and 189 spacewalks to construct and maintain the exterior of the station. NASA intends to keep the ISS up and running until the year 2024.
The station was dubbed “Alpha” by its original occupants, American Bill Shepherd and Russians Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. The international community never settled on an official name and the station came to be known by its descriptive moniker, the International Space Station.
“Now, it’s the ‘space station’ to me and I think it’s a great name,” Kelly said. “The name ‘International Space Station’ really represents what it is. So in some ways, maybe it’s a better name.”
The ever revolving cast of crew members onboard the ISS has developed a reputation for exhibiting effective collaboration and mutual respect. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui noted that if the behavior onboard the station were to be translated to all those living on the ground, “the Earth will be a much better place.”