Space station celebrates its 100,000th orbit

Image: International Space Station
The International Space Station has circled Earth more than 100,000 times. (NASA photo)

The International Space Station registered its 100,000th orbit around the planet today, providing NASA with a news hook for looking at what humanity’s farthest-out outpost has done over the past 17 years.

“During that time, over 1,922 research investigations have been performed,” NASA said in a Tumblr post marking the occasion. “More than 1,200 scientific results publications have been produced as a result.”

Among the best-known studies are those documenting the long-term health effects of spaceflight – findings that serve as cautionary tales for future trips to Mars. Even before the first elements of the space station were launched in 1998, researchers knew that extended stays in weightlessness resulted in bone and muscle loss. But space station studies showed that long-term spacefliers suffered vision impairment and headaches as well.

Future research will look at ways to mitigate or compensate for such health issues, including electromagnetic shields to guard against space radiation.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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