Yesterday, NASA and other space agencies celebrated 16 years during which the International Space Station was active. That’s 16 years during which humanity has had a permanent outpost in microgravity, conducting experiments to advance our potential as a species. It’s a monumental achievement and one which has already paved the way for a myriad of scientific advances and will continue to do so for years to come.

NASA decided to celebrate this with 16 GIFs of the Space Station, along with a short description. You can see them here  or head on to the original post on their website:

1. The International Space Station was assembled in space

From 1998 to 2011, five different space agencies representing 15 countries assembled the International Space Station, the largest structure ever built in space.  Today humans are still living and work in the orbital laboratory. November 2, 2016 marks the 16th anniversary of continuous human presence onboard.

2. The Expedition 1 crew arrives

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Expedition 1 Commander William Shepherd fist pumps and celebrates with his cosmonaut crewmates Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko as they appear on camera for the first time on November 2, 2000.

3. September 11, 2001

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Expedition 3 Commander Frank Culbertson was the only American living off the planet on September 11, 2001. He captured his view of the fateful day from the space station.

The space station offers a unique vantage for observing Earth. Station crews can observe and collect camera images of events as they unfold which can play an important role in helping emergency responders know what areas are most in need during natural disasters.

4. The robotic arm builds the station piece by piece

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The Japanese Experiment Module, or Kibo, is installed to the space station on June 3, 2008. Kibo means “hope” in Japanese, and it is the largest single space station module.

5. First 6-person crew

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The first 6 person crew on the space station gathers for a press conference in May 29, 2009.  Because it was comprised of astronauts from NASA, CSA, ESA, JAXA, and Russia, this was the first and only time all international partners were represented on the space station at the same time.

6. Commercial industry visits station

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Currently, commercial companies SpaceX and Orbital ATK make regular trips to deliver cargo to the space station. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with commercial companies to develop and operate spacecraft to launch people to the International Space Station.

7. Olympic Torch goes on a spacewalk

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Russian Cosmonauts Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov bring the Olympic torch outside the space station during a spacewalk on November 9, 2013. The torch traveled to the station as part of the Olympic torch relay ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

8. Testing fire in space

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Astronaut Reid Weisman captured a floating sphere of fire observed during the Flex-2 experiment on space station on July 18, 2014. The findings may lead to better engines here on Earth.

9. Aurora

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Aurora are one of the astronauts’ favorite views from the station. The spectacle is a result from energized particles in the atmosphere from steady solar winds or giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections.

10. Sunrise

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Astronauts see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day as the station zooms around the Earth every 90 minutes.

11. Water Bubbles

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In microgravity, liquids float freely in spherical form, but when in contact with other objects, surface tension dominates its shape.

12. Spacewalking

Terry Virts GoPro Spacewalk

Astronauts Terry Virts and Barry “Butch” Wilmore capture the first GoPro footage of a spacewalk on February 25, 2015. To date, 195 spacewalks have been performed to build and maintain the space station.

13. DNA Sequencing

DNA Sequencing

For the first time ever, DNA was successfully sequenced in microgravity as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins aboard the space station. With a way to sequence DNA in space, astronauts could diagnose an illness, or identify microbes growing in the station and determine whether or not they represent a health threat.

14. Milky Way

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When passing over the “night” side of Earth, the Milky Way galaxy is subtly visible from the station.

15. U.S. astronauts eat first space-grown lettuce

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Astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Kimiya Yui taste lettuce that had been grown and harvested in space by NASA for the very first time on August 10, 2015.

16. First expandable space habitat

BEAM expansion sped up time lapse animated gif.
BEAM expansion sped up time lapse animated gif.
Credits: NASA

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is the first expandable habitat to be sent to space. It was expanded on May 28, 2016. Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a spacecraft, but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded.

Original authors:

Hayley Fick
Gary Jordan
Megan Sumner
NASA Johnson Space Center

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