Aerospace & Defense

This Is the Largest Object Circling the Earth

Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson flew into space. Or did they? There are different definitions of where space starts. Certainly, all include objects that make it into orbit. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Surveillance Network puts the number of such objects at over 27,000. Some are tiny by their definition. They are “discrete objects as small as 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter in low-Earth orbit and about 1 yard (1 meter) in geosynchronous orbit.” One of these is the largest, by far.

The International Space Station (ISS) was launched on November 20, 1998. At 925,335 pounds, it is the largest object in orbit around the Earth, by far. NASA puts its length at 356 feet, which is about the length of a football field.

As of the most recent NASA data, 243 people from 19 countries have gone to the ISS.

The ISS orbits the Earth about 16 times in 24 hours. It travels at a pace of five miles per second.

Its size for the occupants: “The living and working space in the station is larger than a six-bedroom house (and has six sleeping quarters, two bathrooms, a gym, and a 360-degree view bay window).” Occupants exercise two hours a day so they will not lose muscle mass in the zero-gravity environment. The ISS is pressurized to about the same level as a Boeing 747 when it is in flight.

The latest data on the ISS was updated on May 27, 2021.

Click here to read about 30 NASA inventions we use every day.