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Welcome to Human Space Exploration

Humanity's interest in the heavens has been universal and enduring. Humans are driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries. Human space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. Through addressing the challenges related to human space exploration we expand technology, create new industries, and help to foster a peaceful connection with other nations. Curiosity and exploration are vital to the human spirit and accepting the challenge of going deeper into space

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Space exploration is the discovery and exploration of celestial structures in outer space by developing and growing space technology. While the study of space is carried out mainly by astronomers with telescopes, the physical exploration of space is conducted both by unmanned robotic space probes and human spaceflight. While the observation of objects in space, known as astronomy, predates reliable recorded history, it was the development of large and relatively efficient rockets during the mid-twentieth century that allowed physical space exploration to become a reality. Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, national prestige, uniting different nations, ensuring the future survival of humanity, and developing military and strategic advantages against other countries. The future of space exploration involves both telescopic exploration and the physical exploration of space by unmanned robotic space probes and human spaceflight. Near-term physical exploration missions have been announced by or are being planned by both national and private organisations, focussed on obtaining new information about the solar system. In the longer term there are tentative plans for crewed orbital and landing missions to the Moon and Mars, establishing scientific outposts that will later make way for permanent and self sufficient settlements. Further exploration will potentially involve expeditions and settlements on the other planets and their moons as well as establishing mining and fueling outposts, particularly in the asteroid belt. Physical exploration outside the solar system will be robotic for the foreseeable future.

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The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and other fields. The station is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars. The ISS maintains an orbit with an average altitude of 400 kilometres (250 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda module or visiting spacecraft. It circles the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day. The station is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS), which is operated by Russia, and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations. As of January 2018, operations of the US segment were funded until 2025.Roscosmos has endorsed the continued operation of ISS through 2024,but has proposed using elements of the Russian segment to construct a new Russian space station called OPSEK.
The first ISS component was launched in 1998, with the first long-term residents arriving on 2 November 2000. Since then, the station has been continuously occupied for 18 years and 291 days. This is the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, having surpassed the previous record of 9 years and 357 days held by Mir. The latest major pressurised module was fitted in 2011, with an experimental inflatable space habitat added in 2016. As of December 2018, the station is expected to operate until 2030.
Development and assembly of the station continues, with several major new Russian elements scheduled for launch starting in 2020. The ISS is the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. The ISS consists of pressurised habitation modules, structural trusses, solar arrays, radiators, docking ports, experiment bays and robotic arms. Major ISS modules have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and US Space Shuttles.
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The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US. The station is serviced by a variety of visiting spacecraft: the Russian Soyuz and Progress, the US Dragon and Cygnus, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the European Automated Transfer Vehicle. The Dragon spacecraft allows the return of pressurised cargo to Earth (downmass), which is used for example to repatriate scientific experiments for further analysis. The Soyuz return capsule has minimal downmass capability next to the astronauts.
The ISS has been visited by astronauts, cosmonauts and space tourists from 18 different nations. As of 14 March 2019, 236 people from 18 countries had visited the space station, many of them multiple times. The United States sent 149 people, Russia sent 47, nine were Japanese, eight were Canadian, five were Italian, four were French, three were German, and there were one each from Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Salyut 1 was the first space station of any kind, launched into low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. The International Space Station is currently the only fully functional space station, with continuous inhabitance since the year 2000.

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The ISS was originally intended to be a laboratory, observatory, and factory while providing transportation, maintenance, and a low Earth orbit staging base for possible future missions to the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. However, not all of the uses envisioned in the initial Memorandum of Understanding between NASA and Roskosmos have come to fruition. In the 2010 United States National Space Policy, the ISS was given additional roles of serving commercial, diplomatic and educational purposes.

Scientific research

The ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research, with power, data, cooling, and crew available to support experiments. Small uncrewed spacecraft can also provide platforms for experiments, especially those involving zero gravity and exposure to space, but space stations offer a long-term environment where studies can be performed potentially for decades, combined with ready access by human researchers. The ISS simplifies individual experiments by allowing groups of experiments to share the same launches and crew time. Research is conducted in a wide variety of fields, including astrobiology, astronomy, physical sciences, materials science, space weather, meteorology, and human research including space medicine and the life sciences. Scientists on Earth have timely access to the data and can suggest experimental modifications to the crew. If follow-on experiments are necessary, the routinely scheduled launches of resupply craft allows new hardware to be launched with relative ease. Crews fly expeditions of several months' duration, providing approximately 160 person-hours per week of labour with a crew of 6. However, a considerable amount of crew time is taken up by station maintenance.
Perhaps the most notable ISS experiment is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which is intended to detect dark matter and answer other fundamental questions about our universe and is as important as the Hubble Space Telescope according to NASA. Currently docked on station, it could not have been easily accommodated on a free flying satellite platform because of its power and bandwidth needs. On 3 April 2013, scientists reported that hints of dark matter may have been detected by the AMS. According to the scientists, "The first results from the space-borne Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer confirm an unexplained excess of high-energy positrons in Earth-bound cosmic rays." The space environment is hostile to life. Unprotected presence in space is characterised by an intense radiation field (consisting primarily of protons and other subatomic charged particles from the solar wind, in addition to cosmic rays), high vacuum, extreme temperatures, and microgravity. Some simple forms of life called extremophiles, as well as small invertebrates called tardigrades can survive in this environment in an extremely dry state through desiccation.
The space environment is hostile to life. Unprotected presence in space is characterised by an intense radiation field (consisting primarily of protons and other subatomic charged particles from the solar wind, in addition to cosmic rays), high vacuum, extreme temperatures, and microgravity. Some simple forms of life called extremophiles, as well as small invertebrates called tardigrades can survive in this environment in an extremely dry state through desiccation. Medical research improves knowledge about the effects of long-term space exposure on the human body, including muscle atrophy, bone loss, and fluid shift. This data will be used to determine whether high duration human spaceflight and space colonisation are feasible. As of 2006, data on bone loss and muscular atrophy suggest that there would be a significant risk of fractures and movement problems if astronauts landed on a planet after a lengthy interplanetary cruise, such as the six-month interval required to travel to Mars.

Free fall

Gravity at the altitude of the ISS is approximately 90% as strong as at Earth's surface, but objects in orbit are in a continuous state of freefall, resulting in an apparent state of weightlessness. This perceived weightlessness is disturbed by five separate effects:
1.Drag from the residual atmosphere.
2.Vibration from the movements of mechanical systems and the crew.
3.Actuation of the on-board attitude control moment gyroscopes.
4.Thruster firings for attitude or orbital changes.
5.Gravity-gradient effects, also known as tidal effects.
6.Items at different locations within the ISS would, if not attached to the station, follow slightly different orbits. Being mechanically interconnected these items experience small forces that keep the station moving as a rigid body.
The study of materials science is an important ISS research activity, with the objective of reaping economic benefits through the improvement of techniques used on the ground. Other areas of interest include the effect of the low gravity environment on combustion, through the study of the efficiency of burning and control of emissions and pollutants. These findings may improve current knowledge about energy production, and lead to economic and environmental benefits. Future plans are for the researchers aboard the ISS to examine aerosols, ozone, water vapour, and oxides in Earth's atmosphere, as well as cosmic rays, cosmic dust, antimatter, and dark matter in the universe.

Education & Cultural Outreach

Amateur Radio on the ISS (ARISS) is a volunteer programme which encourages students worldwide to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through amateur radio communications opportunities with the ISS crew. ARISS is an international working group, consisting of delegations from nine countries including several countries in Europe as well as Japan, Russia, Canada, and the United States. In areas where radio equipment cannot be used, speakerphones connect students to ground stations which then connect the calls to the station.


Since the International Space Station is a multi-national collaborative project, the components for in-orbit assembly were manufactured in various countries around the world. Beginning in the mid 1990s, the U.S. components Destiny, Unity, the Integrated Truss Structure, and the solar arrays were fabricated at the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Michoud Assembly Facility. These modules were delivered to the Operations and Checkout Building and the Space Station Processing Facility for final assembly and processing for launch. The Russian modules, including Zarya and Zvezda, were manufactured at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow. Zvezda was initially manufactured in 1985 as a component for Mir-2, but was never launched and instead became the ISS Service Module. The European Space Agency Columbus module was manufactured at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, along with many other contractors throughout Europe. The other ESA-built modules - Harmony, Tranquility, the Leonardo MPLM, and the Cupola - were initially manufactured at the Thales Alenia Space factory located at the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center. The structural steel hulls of the modules were transported by aircraft to the Kennedy Space Center SSPF for launch processing. The Japanese Experiment Module Kibo, was fabricated in various technology manufacturing facilities in Japan, at the NASDA (now JAXA) Tanegashima Space Center, and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. The Kibo module was transported by ship and flown by aircraft to the KSC Space Station Processing Facility. The Mobile Servicing System, consisting of the Canadarm-2 and the Dextre grapple fixture, was manufactured at various factories in Canada and the United States under contract by the Canadian Space Agency. The mobile base system, a connecting framework for Canadarm-2 mounted on rails, was built by Northrop Grumman. The Canadarm-2 and Dextre were built by MDA Space Missions.

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Space Station-Blue Print

The ISS is a third generation modular space station. Modular stations can allow modules to be added to or removed from the existing structure, allowing greater flexibility. Below is a diagram of major station components. The blue areas are pressurised sections accessible by the crew without using spacesuits. The station's unpressurised superstructure is indicated in red. Other unpressurised components are yellow. Note that the Unity node joins directly to the Destiny laboratory. For clarity, they are shown apart.

Qucik tip: Please,click to rotate,3-D model of the International Space Station

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The ISS is maintained in a nearly circular orbit with a minimum mean altitude of 330 km (205 mi) and a maximum of 410 km (255 mi), in the centre of the thermosphere, at an inclination of 51.6 degrees to Earth's equator, necessary to ensure that Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome may be safely launched to reach the station. Spent rocket stages must be dropped into uninhabited areas and this limits the directions rockets can be launched from the spaceport. It travels at an average speed of 27,724 kilometres per hour (17,227 mph), and completes 15.54 orbits per day (93 minutes per orbit). The station's altitude was allowed to fall around the time of each NASA shuttle flight to permit heavier loads to be transferred to the station. After the retirement of the shuttle, the nominal orbit of the space station was raised in altitude. Other, more frequent supply ships do not require this adjustment as they are substantially higher performance vehicles. Orbital boosting can be performed by the station's two main engines on the Zvezda service module, or Russian or European spacecraft docked to Zvezda's aft port. The ATV is constructed with the possibility of adding a second docking port to its aft end, allowing other craft to dock and boost the station. It takes approximately two orbits (three hours) for the boost to a higher altitude to be completed. Maintaining ISS altitude uses about 7.5 tonnes of chemical fuel per annum at an annual cost of about $210 million. Orbits of the ISS, shown in April 2013 The Russian Orbital Segment contains the Data Management System, which handles Guidance, Navigation and Control (ROS GNC) for the entire station. Initially, Zarya, the first module of the station, controlled the station until a short time after the Russian service module Zvezda docked and was transferred control. Zvezda contains the ESA built DMS-R Data Management System. Using two fault-tolerant computers (FTC), Zvezda computes the station's position and orbital trajectory using redundant Earth horizon sensors, Solar horizon sensors as well as Sun and star trackers. The FTCs each contain three identical processing units working in parallel and provide advanced fault-masking by majority voting.

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Mission controls

The components of the ISS are operated and monitored by their respective space agencies at mission control centres across the globe, including: Roscosmos's Mission Control Center at Korolyov, Moscow Oblast, controls the Russian Orbital Segment which handles Guidance, Navigation and Control for the entire Station,in addition to individual Soyuz and Progress missions. ESA's ATV Control Centre, at the Toulouse Space Centre (CST) in Toulouse, France, controls flights of the uncrewed European Automated Transfer Vehicle. JAXA's JEM Control Center and HTV Control Center at Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) are responsible for operating the Kibō complex and all flights of the White Stork HTV Cargo spacecraft, respectively. NASA's Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, serves as the primary control facility for the United States segment of the ISS. NASA's Payload Operations and Integration Center at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, coordinates payload operations in the USOS. ESA's Columbus Control Centre at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, manages the European Columbus research laboratory. CSA's MSS Control at Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada, controls and monitors the Mobile Servicing System, or Canadarm2.

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Life Aboard

Crew activities
A typical day for the crew begins with a wake-up at 06:00, followed by post-sleep activities and a morning inspection of the station. The crew then eats breakfast and takes part in a daily planning conference with Mission Control before starting work at around 08:10. The first scheduled exercise of the day follows, after which the crew continues work until 13:05. Following a one-hour lunch break, the afternoon consists of more exercise and work before the crew carries out its pre-sleep activities beginning at 19:30, including dinner and a crew conference. The scheduled sleep period begins at 21:30. In general, the crew works ten hours per day on a weekday, and five hours on Saturdays, with the rest of the time their own for relaxation or work catch-up.
The time zone used aboard the ISS is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The windows are covered at night hours to give the impression of darkness because the station experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. During visiting Space Shuttle missions, the ISS crew mostly follows the shuttle's Mission Elapsed Time (MET), which is a flexible time zone based on the launch time of the shuttle mission.
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The station provides crew quarters for each member of the expedition's crew, with two 'sleep stations' in the Zvezda and four more installed in Harmony. The USOS quarters are private, approximately person-sized soundproof booths. The ROS crew quarters include a small window, but provide less ventilation and sound proofing. A crew member can sleep in a crew quarter in a tethered sleeping bag, listen to music, use a laptop, and store personal items in a large drawer or in nets attached to the module's walls. The module also provides a reading lamp, a shelf and a desktop. Visiting crews have no allocated sleep module, and attach a sleeping bag to an available space on a wall. It is possible to sleep floating freely through the station, but this is generally avoided because of the possibility of bumping into sensitive equipment. It is important that crew accommodations be well ventilated; otherwise, astronauts can wake up oxygen-deprived and gasping for air, because a bubble of their own exhaled carbon dioxide has formed around their heads. During various station activities and crew rest times, the lights in the ISS can be dimmed, switched off, and color temperatures adjusted.

Life Support

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On the USOS, most of the food aboard is vacuum sealed in plastic bags; cans are rare because they are heavy and expensive to transport. Preserved food is not highly regarded by the crew and taste is reduced in microgravity,so efforts are taken to make the food more palatable, including using more spices than in regular cooking. The crew looks forward to the arrival of any ships from Earth as they bring fresh fruit and vegetables. Care is taken that foods do not create crumbs, and liquid condiments are preferred over solid to avoid contaminating station equipment. Each crew member has individual food packages and cooks them using the on-board galley. The galley features two food warmers, a refrigerator which was added in November 2008, and a water dispenser that provides both heated and unheated water. Drinks are provided as dehydrated powder that is mixed with water before consumption. Drinks and soups are sipped from plastic bags with straws, while solid food is eaten with a knife and fork attached to a tray with magnets to prevent them from floating away. Any food that floats away, including crumbs, must be collected to prevent it from clogging the station's air filters and other equipment.

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Hygiene | Toilet

Showers on space stations were introduced in the early 1970s on Skylab and Salyut 3. By Salyut 6, in the early 1980s, the crew complained of the complexity of showering in space, which was a monthly activity. The ISS does not feature a shower; instead, crewmembers wash using a water jet and wet wipes, with soap dispensed from a toothpaste tube-like container. Crews are also provided with rinseless shampoo and edible toothpaste to save water.

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All Russian spacecraft and self-propelled modules are able to rendezvous and dock to the space station without human intervention using the Kurs radar docking system from over 200 kilometres away. The European ATV uses star sensors and GPS to determine its intercept course. When it catches up it uses laser equipment to optically recognize Zvezda, along with the Kurs system for redundancy. Crew supervise these craft, but do not intervene except to send abort commands in emergencies. Progress and ATV supply craft can remain at the ISS for six months,allowing great flexibility in crew time for loading and unloading of supplies and trash. From the initial station programs, the Russians pursued an automated docking methodology that used the crew in override or monitoring roles. Although the initial development costs were high, the system has become very reliable with standardisations that provide significant cost benefits in repetitive operations. An automated approach could also allow assembly of modules orbiting other worlds prior to crew arrival. Soyuz spacecraft used for crew rotation also serve as lifeboats for emergency evacuation; they are replaced every six months and were used after the Columbia disaster to return stranded crew from the ISS. Expeditions require, on average, 2,722 kg of supplies, and as of 9 March 2011, crews had consumed a total of around 22,000 meals. Soyuz crew rotation flights and Progress resupply flights visit the station on average two and three times respectively each year, with the ATV and HTV planned to visit annually from 2010 onwards. Other vehicles berth instead of docking. The Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle parks itself in progressively closer orbits to the station, and then awaits 'approach' commands from the crew, until it is close enough for a robotic arm to grapple and berth the vehicle to the USOS. Berthed craft can transfer International Standard Payload Racks. Japanese spacecraft berth for one to two months. The berthing Cygnus and Dragon are contracted to fly cargo to the station under the Commercial Resupply Services program. From 26 February 2011 to 7 March 2011 four of the governmental partners (United States, ESA, Japan and Russia) had their spacecraft (NASA Shuttle, ATV, HTV, Progress and Soyuz) docked at the ISS, the only time this has happened to date. On 25 May 2012, SpaceX delivered the first commercial cargo with a Dragon spacecraft.

Orbital debris threats

The low altitudes at which the ISS orbits are also home to a variety of space debris,including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, explosion fragments (including materials from anti-satellite weapon tests), paint flakes, slag from solid rocket motors, and coolant released by US-A nuclear-powered satellites. These objects, in addition to natural micrometeoroids, are a significant threat. Objects large enough to destroy the station can be tracked, and are not as dangerous as smaller debris. Objects too small to be detected by optical and radar instruments, from approximately 1 cm down to microscopic size, number in the trillions. Despite their small size, some of these objects are a threat because of their kinetic energy and direction in relation to the station. Spacewalking crew in spacesuits are also at risk of suit damage and consequent exposure to vacuum.
Ballistic panels, also called micrometeorite shielding, are incorporated into the station to protect pressurised sections and critical systems. The type and thickness of these panels depend on their predicted exposure to damage. The station's shields and structure have different designs on the ROS and the USOS. On the USOS, Whipple shields are used.
The US segment modules consist of an inner layer made from 1.5 cm thick aluminum, a 10 cm thick intermediate layers of Kevlar and Nextel, and an outer layer of stainless steel, which causes objects to shatter into a cloud before hitting the hull, thereby spreading the energy of impact. On the ROS, a carbon plastic honeycomb screen is spaced from the hull, an aluminium honeycomb screen is spaced from that, with a screen-vacuum thermal insulation covering, and glass cloth over the top.
Example of risk management: A NASA model showing areas at high risk from impact for the International Space Station. Space debris is tracked remotely from the ground, and the station crew can be notified. If necessary, thrusters on the Russian Orbital Segment can alter the station's orbital altitude, avoiding the debris. These Debris Avoidance Manoeuvres (DAMs) are not uncommon, taking place if computational models show the debris will approach within a certain threat distance. Ten DAMs had been performed by the end of 2009. Usually, an increase in orbital velocity of the order of 1 m/s is used to raise the orbit by one or two kilometres. If necessary, the altitude can also be lowered, although such a maneuver wastes propellant. If a threat from orbital debris is identified too late for a DAM to be safely conducted, the station crew close all the hatches aboard the station and retreat into their Soyuz spacecraft in order to be able to evacuate in the event the station was seriously damaged by the debris. This partial station evacuation has occurred on 13 March 2009, 28 June 2011, 24 March 2012 and 16 June 2015.

Radar-trackable objects, including debris, with distinct ring of geostationary satellites

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End of mission

According to the Outer Space Treaty, the United States and Russia are legally responsible for all modules they have launched. Natural orbital decay with random reentry (as with Skylab), boosting the station to a higher altitude (which would delay reentry), and a controlled targeted de-orbit to a remote ocean area were considered as ISS disposal options. As of late 2010, the preferred plan is to use a slightly modified Progress spacecraft to de-orbit the ISS. This plan was seen as the simplest, cheapest and with the highest margin.
The Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (OPSEK) was previously intended to be constructed of modules from the Russian Orbital Segment after the ISS is decommissioned. The modules under consideration for removal from the current ISS included the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (Nauka), currently scheduled to be launched in November 2019, and the other new Russian modules that are planned to be attached to Nauka. These newly launched modules would still be well within their useful lives in 2020 or 2024.
At the end of 2011, the Exploration Gateway Platform concept also proposed using leftover USOS hardware and 'Zvezda 2' [sic] as a refuelling depot and service station located at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points. However, the entire USOS was not designed for disassembly and will be discarded. In February 2015, Roscosmos announced that it would remain a part of the ISS programme until 2024.
Nine months earlier—in response to US sanctions against Russia over the annexation of Crimea—Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin had stated that Russia would reject a US request to prolong the orbiting station's use beyond 2020, and would only supply rocket engines to the US for non-military satellite launches. On 28 March 2015, Russian sources announced that Roscosmos and NASA had agreed to collaborate on the development of a replacement for the current ISS. Igor Komarov, the head of Russia's Roscosmos, made the announcement with NASA administrator Charles Bolden at his side. In a statement provided to SpaceNews on 28 March, NASA spokesman David Weaver said the agency appreciated the Russian commitment to extending the ISS, but did not confirm any plans for a future space station.[353] On 30 September 2015, Boeing's contract with NASA as prime contractor for the ISS was extended to 30 September 2020.
Part of Boeing's services under the contract will relate to extending the station's primary structural hardware past 2020 to the end of 2028. Regarding extending the ISS, on 15 November 2016 General Director Vladimir Solntsev of RSC Energia stated "Maybe the ISS will receive continued resources. Today we discussed the possibility of using the station until 2028," with discussion to continue under the new presidential administration. There have also been suggestions that the station could be converted to commercial operations after it is retired by government entities. In July 2018, the Space Frontier Act of 2018 was intended to extend operations of the ISS to 2030. This bill was unanimously approved in the Senate, but failed to pass in the U.S. House. In September 2018, the Leading Human Spaceflight Act was introduced with the intent to extend operations of the ISS to 2030, and was confirmed in December 2018.


The ISS has been described as the most expensive single item ever constructed. In 2010 the cost was expected to be $150 billion. This includes NASA's budget of $58.7 billion (inflation-unadjusted) for the station from 1985 to 2015 ($72.4 billion in 2010 dollars),
Russia's $12 billion,
Europe's $5 billion,
Japan's $5 billion,
Canada's $2 billion,
and the cost of 36 shuttle flights to build the station;
estimated at $1.4 billion each, or $50.4 billion in total.
Assuming 20,000 person-days of use from 2000 to 2015 by two- to six-person crews, each person-day would cost $7.5 million, less than half the inflation-adjusted $19.6 million ($5.5 million before inflation) per person-day of Skylab.

Sightings from Earth

Naked eye

The ISS is visible to the naked eye as a slow-moving, bright white dot because of reflected sunlight, and can be seen in the hours after sunset and before sunrise, when the station remains sunlit but the ground and sky are dark. The ISS takes about 10 minutes to pass from one horizon to another, and will only be visible part of that time because of moving into or out of the Earth's shadow. Because of the size of its reflective surface area, the ISS is the brightest artificial object in the sky, excluding flares, with an approximate maximum magnitude of −4 when overhead (similar to Venus). The ISS, like many satellites including the Iridium constellation, can also produce flares of up to 8 or 16 times the brightness of Venus as sunlight glints off reflective surfaces. The ISS is also visible in broad daylight, albeit with a great deal more difficulty. Tools are provided by a number of websites such as Heavens-Above (see Live viewing below) as well as smartphone applications that use orbital data and the observer's longitude and latitude to indicate when the ISS will be visible (weather permitting), where the station will appear to rise, the altitude above the horizon it will reach and the duration of the pass before the station disappears either by setting below the horizon or entering into Earth's shadow. In November 2012 NASA launched its "Spot the Station" service, which sends people text and email alerts when the station is due to fly above their town. The station is visible from 95% of the inhabited land on Earth, but is not visible from extreme northern or southern latitudes.

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The first telescope was invented in 1608 in the Netherlands by an eyeglass maker named Hans Lippershey. The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 was the first space telescope launched on December 7, 1968. As of February 2, 2019, there are 3,891 confirmed exoplanets discovered. The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars and more than 100 billion planets. There are at least 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe. GN-z11 is the most distant known object from Earth, reported as 32 billion light-years away.

The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet uncrewed Sputnik 1 ("Satellite 1") mission on 4 October 1957. The satellite weighed about 83 kg (183 lb), and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km (160 mi). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40 MHz), which emitted "beeps" that could be heard by radios around the globe. Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data was encoded in the duration of radio beeps. The results indicated that the satellite was not punctured by a meteoroid. Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It burned up upon re-entry on 3 January 1958.

The first successful human spaceflight was Vostok 1 ("East 1"), carrying 27-year-old Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on 12 April 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin's flight resonated around the world; it was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: human spaceflight.

List of government space agencies

This is a list of government agencies engaged in activities related to outer space and space exploration. As of 2018, 72 different government space agencies are in existence; 14 of those have launch capability.
Six government space agencies
1. Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA or Roscosmos) | Федеральное космическое агентство России (РФСА или Роскосмос)
2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
3. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) |宇宙航空研究開発機構
4. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) |இந்திய விண்வெளி ஆராய்ச்சி அமைப்பு (இஸ்ரோ) | भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन (ISRO)
5. China National Space Administration (CNSA) | 中国国家航天局(CNSA)
6. European Space Agency (ESA) | Agence spatiale européenne (ESA) |Europäische Weltraumorganisation (ESA)
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and all of them have a launch capabilities; these include the ability to launch and recover multiple satellites, deploy cryogenic rocket engines and operate space probes. The name given is the English version, with the native language version below. The acronym given is the most common acronym: this can either be the acronym of the English version (e.g. JAXA), or the acronym in the native language. Where there are multiple acronyms in common use, the English one is given first. The date of the founding of the space agency is the date of first operations where applicable. If the space agency is no longer running, then the date when it was terminated (i.e. the last day of operations) is given. A link to the Agency's primary website is also given.

The first artificial object to reach another celestial body was Luna 2 reaching the Moon in 1959. The first soft landing on another celestial body was performed by Luna 9 landing on the Moon on February 3, 1966. Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon, entering Moon Orbit on April 3, 1966.
The first crewed landing on another celestial body was performed by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, landing on the Moon. There have been a total of six spacecraft with humans landing on the Moon starting from 1969 to the last human landing in 1972.
The first interplanetary flyby was the 1961 Venera 1 flyby of Venus, though the 1962 Mariner 2 was the first flyby of Venus to return data (closest approach 34,773 kilometers). Pioneer 6 was the first satellite to orbit the Sun, launched on December 16, 1965. The other planets were first flown by in 1965 for Mars by Mariner 4, 1973 for Jupiter by Pioneer 10, 1974 for Mercury by Mariner 10, 1979 for Saturn by Pioneer 11, 1986 for Uranus by Voyager 2, 1989 for Neptune by Voyager 2. In 2015, the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto were orbited by Dawn and passed by New Horizons, respectively. This accounts for flybys of each of the eight planets in our Solar System, the Sun, the Moon and Ceres & Pluto (2 of the 5 recognized dwarf planets).
The first interplanetary surface mission to return at least limited surface data from another planet was the 1970 landing of Venera 7 which returned data to Earth for 23 minutes from Venus. In 1975 the Venera 9 was the first to return images from the surface of another planet, returning images from Venus. In 1971 the Mars 3 mission achieved the first soft landing on Mars returning data for almost 20 seconds. Later much longer duration surface missions were achieved, including over six years of Mars surface operation by Viking 1 from 1975 to 1982 and over two hours of transmission from the surface of Venus by Venera 13 in 1982, the longest ever Soviet planetary surface mission. Venus and Mars are the two planets outside of Earth humans have conducted surface missions on with unmanned robotic spacecraft.

Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave our Solar System into interstellar space on August 25, 2012. The probe passed the heliopause at 121 AU to enter interstellar space.
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The Apollo 13 flight passed the far side of the Moon at an altitude of 254 kilometers (137 nautical miles) above the lunar surface, and 400,171 km (248,655 mi) from Earth, marking the record for the farthest humans have ever traveled from Earth in 1970. Voyager 1 is currently at a distance of 145.11 astronomical units (2.1708×1010 km; 1.3489×1010 mi) (21.708 billion kilometers; 13.489 billion miles) from Earth as of January 1, 2019. It is the most distant human-made object from Earth. GN-z11 is the most distant known object from Earth, reported as 13.4 billion light-years away.

Breakthrough Starshot

Breakthrough Starshot is a research and engineering project by the Breakthrough Initiatives to develop a proof-of-concept fleet of solar sail spacecraft named StarChip, to be capable of making the journey to the Alpha Centauri star system 4.37 light-years away.


Chang'e 5

Chang'e 5 is a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission consisting of an orbiter and a lander. It is currently under development and it is scheduled for a launch in December 2019, after being postponed due to the failure of the Long March 5 launch vehicle in 2017. Chang'e 5 will be China's first sample return mission, aiming to return at least 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to the Earth. Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese moon goddess, Chang'e. This will be the first lunar sample-return mission since Luna 24 in 1976.


Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is a lunar lander being developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The lander will demonstrate precision landing technology. As of 2017, the lander is planned to be launched in 2021. Its is Japan's first major lunar surface mission, and will demonstrate precise, pinpoint lunar landing. During its descent to the Moon, the lander will recognize lunar craters by applying technology from facial recognition systems, and determine its current location from utilizing observation data collected by the SELENE (Kaguya) lunar orbiter mission. SLIM aims to soft land with an error range of 100 m.

Artemis 1

Artemis 1[2] (originally known as Exploration Mission-1 or EM-1 until the introduction of the Artemis program in 2019, when it was renamed) is the second planned flight of the uncrewed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to be launched on the first flight of the Space Launch System. The launch is planned from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center at an unspecified date after June 2020. The Orion spacecraft will spend approximately 3 weeks in space, including 6 days in a retrograde orbit around the Moon. It is planned to be followed by Artemis 2 in 2022.


Rosalind Franklin rover

The Rosalind Franklin rover is a planned robotic Mars rover, part of the international ExoMars programme led by the European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation. The plan calls for a Russian launch vehicle, an ESA carrier module and a Russian lander that will deploy the rover to Mars' surface, scheduled to launch in July 2020. Once safely landed, the solar powered rover would begin a seven-month (218-sol) mission to search for the existence of past life on Mars. The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched in 2016, will operate as the rover's data-relay satellite.

Mars 2020 rover

The Mars 2020 rover, part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, is scheduled to launch in July/August 2020. This mission will collect samples for future return to Earth to provide insight on the possibility of life on Mars. It will seek for signs of past microbial life and habitable conditions while also collecting information on resources for future astronauts. The Mars 2020 rover will collect core samples and put them in a cache for future missions to retrieve for testing. Furthermore, the rover will test a method for producing oxygen from the atmosphere on Mars, characterize environmental conditions, and identify other resources for future astronauts.

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2020 Chinese Mars Mission

The Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover (HX-1) is a planned project by China to deploy an orbiter and rover on Mars. The mission is planned to be launched in July or August 2020 with a Long March 5 heavy lift rocket. Its stated objective is to search for evidence of both current and past life, and assessing the planet's environment.

Mangalyaan 2

Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM 2), also called Mangalyaan 2, is India's second interplanetary mission planned for launch to Mars by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the 2022-2023 time frame. The orbiter will use aerobraking to lower its initial apoapsis and enter into an orbit more suitable for observations.

Hope Mars Mission

The Hope Mars Mission is a space exploration probe mission to Mars built by the United Arab Emirates and set for launch in 2020. Upon launch, it will become the first mission to Mars by any Arab or Muslim majority country. The probe will study the Martian atmosphere and provide details regarding the climate daily and through seasonal cycles, the weather events in the lower atmosphere such as dust storms, as well as the weather on Mars different geographic areas. The probe will attempt to answer the scientific community questions of why Mars atmosphere is losing hydrogen and oxygen into space and the reason behind Mars drastic climate changes.


An article in science magazine Nature suggested the use of asteroids as a gateway for space exploration, with the ultimate destination being Mars. In order to make such an approach viable, three requirements need to be fulfilled: first, "a thorough asteroid survey to find thousands of nearby bodies suitable for astronauts to visit"; second, "extending flight duration and distance capability to ever-increasing ranges out to Mars"; and finally, "developing better robotic vehicles and tools to enable astronauts to explore an asteroid regardless of its size, shape or spin. " Furthermore, using asteroids would provide astronauts with protection from galactic cosmic rays, with mission crews being able to land on them without great risk to radiation exposure


Lucy, part of NASA's Discovery Program, is scheduled to launch in October 2021 to explore six Trojan Asteroids and a Main Belt asteroid. The two Trojan swarms ahead of and behind Jupiter are thought to be dark bodies made of the same material as the outer planets that were pulled into orbit near Jupiter. Lucy will be the first mission to study the Trojans, and scientists hope the findings from this mission will revolutionize our knowledge of the formation of the solar system. For this reason, the project is named after Lucy, a fossilized hominid that provided insight on the evolution of humans. The asteroids studied are ancient fossils of planet formation which could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth.

The spacecraft's path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary. Lucy has two close Earth flybys before encountering its Trojan targets. After 2033, Lucy will continue cycling between the two Trojan clouds every six years.

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The Psyche spacecraft, part of NASA's Discovery Program, is scheduled to launch at the end of 2022 to 16 Psyche, a metallic object in the asteroid belt. 16 Psyche is 130 miles (210 km) wide, and it is made almost entirely of iron and nickel instead of ice and rock. Because of this unique composition, scientists believe it is the remnants of a planet's core that lost its exterior through a series of collisions, but it is possible that 16 Psyche is only unmelted material. NASA hopes to obtain information about planetary formation from directly studying the exposed interior of a planetary body, which would otherwise not be possible.


The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft was launched on September 8, 2016. It traveled to 1999 RQ36 (Bennu) to collect samples of this asteroid because it is believed to be relatively unchanged. Bennu is largely made up of chondrules, clumps of molten rock held together by electrostatic and gravitational forces, that have not been altered by geologic activity or other reactions, making it a prime example of the early solar system. It arrived on 3 December 2018.

Gas Giants


The JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) is an interplanetary spacecraft in development by the European Space Agency (ESA) with Airbus Defence and Space as the main contractor. The mission is being developed to visit the Jovian system focused on studying three of Jupiter's Galilean moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa (excluding the more volcanically active Io) all of which are thought to have significant bodies of liquid water beneath their surfaces, making them potentially habitable environments. The spacecraft is set for launch in June 2022 and would reach Jupiter in October 2029 after five gravity assists and 88 months of travel. By 2033 the spacecraft should enter orbit around Ganymede for its close up science mission and becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than the moon of Earth.

Europa Clipper

Europa Clipper is an interplanetary mission in development by NASA comprising an orbiter. Set for a launch in June 2023 aboard the Space Launch System, the spacecraft is being developed to study the Galilean moon Europa through a series of flybys while in orbit around Jupiter. The mission will complement ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer launching in 2022, which will fly-by Europa twice and Callisto multiple times before moving into orbit around Ganymede. Launching around the same time as the Europa Clipper, the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer will have a cruise phase some three times as long.

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Space telescopes

1.CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite)
2.PLATO PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO)
3.TESS The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
4.James Webb Space Telescope

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Crewed missions

1.NASA Commercial Crew Program
2.Artemis 3-8
3.SpaceX's Starship/BFR
4.Mars Base Camp
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Limitations with deep space exploration

The future possibilities for deep space exploration are currently held back by a set of technical, practical, astronomical, and human limitations, which define the future of manned and unmanned space exploration. As of 2017, the farthest any man-made probe has traveled is the current NASA mission Voyager 1, currently about 13 billion miles (21 billion km), or 19.5 light hours away from the Earth, while the nearest star is around 4.24 light years away.

Technical limitations
The current status of space-faring technology, including propulsion systems, navigation, resources and storage all present limitations to the development of human space exploration in the near future.


The astronomical order of magnitude of the distance between us and the nearest stars is a challenge for the current development of space exploration. At our current top speed of 157,100 miles per hour (70.2 km/s), the Helios 2 probe would arrive at the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, in around 18,000 years, much longer than a human lifespan and therefore requiring much faster transportation methods than currently available. It is important to note that this top speed was achieved due to the Oberth effect where the spacecraft was sped up by the suns gravity. The fastest escape velocity from the solar system is that of Voyager 1 of 17km/s.

Propulsion and fuel

In terms of propulsion, the main challenge is the liftoff and initial momentum, since there is no friction in the vacuum of space. Based on the missions goals, including factors such as distance, load and time of flight, the type of propulsion drive used, planned to use, or in design varies from chemical propellants, such as liquid hydrogen and oxidizer (Space Shuttle Main Engine), to plasma[23] or even nanoparticle propellants. As for future developments, the theoretical possibilities of nuclear based propulsion have been analyzed over 60 years ago, such as nuclear fusion (Project Daedalus) and nuclear pulse propulsion (Project Longshot),[26] but have since been discontinued from practical research by NASA. On the more science fiction side, the theoretical Alcubierre drive presents a mathematical solution for “faster-than-light” travel, but it would require the mass-Energy of Jupiter, not to mention the technical issues.

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Human limitations

The human element in manned space exploration adds certain physiological and psychological issues and limitations to the future possibilities of space exploration, along with storage and sustenance space and mass issues.

Physiological issues

The transitioning gravity magnitudes on the body is detrimental to orientation, coordination, and balance. Without constant gravity, bones suffer disuse osteoporosis, and their mineral density falls 12 times faster than the average elderly adult's. Without regular exercise and nourishment, there can be cardiovascular deterioration and loss in muscle strength. Dehydration can cause kidney stones, and constant hydro-static potential in zero-g can shift body fluids upwards and cause vision problems. Furthermore, without Earth's surrounding magnetic field as a shield, solar radiation has much harsher effects on biological organisms in space. The exposure can include damage to the central nervous system,(altered cognitive function, reducing motor function and incurring possible behavioral changes), as well as the possibility of degenerative tissue diseases.

Resources and sustenance

Considering the future possibility of extended, manned missions, food storage and resupply are relevant limitations. From a storage point of view, NASA estimates a 3-year Mars mission would require around 24 thousand pounds (10,000 kg) of food, most of it in the form of precooked, dehydrated meals of about 1.5 pounds a portion. Fresh produce would only be available in the beginning of the flight, since there would not be refrigeration systems. Water's relative heavy weight is a limitation, so on the International Space Station (ISS) the use of water per person is limited to 11 liters a day, compared to the average Americans' 132 liters. Smiley face

Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Space Craft Development

The idea of using high level automated systems for space missions has become a desirable goal to space agencies all around the world. Such systems are believed to yield benefits such as lower cost, less human oversight, and ability to explore deeper in space which is usually restricted by long communications with human controllers. Autonomy will be a key technology for the future exploration of our solar system, where robotic spacecraft will often be out of communication with their human controllers.

Autonomous systems

Autonomy is defined by three requirements:
1.The ability to make and carry out decisions on their own, based on information on what they sensed from the world and their current state.
2.The ability to interpret the given goal as a list of actions to take.
3.The ability to fail flexibly, meaning they are able to continuously change their actions based on what is happening within their system and their surrounding.
Currently, there are many projects trying to advance space exploration and space craft development using AI.

NASA's autonomous science experiment

NASA began its autonomous science experiment (ASE) on Earth Observing-1 (EO-1), which is NASA's first satellite in the millennium program, Earth-observing series launched on November 21, 2000. The autonomy of these satellites is capable of on-board science analysis, re-planning, robust execution, and model-based diagnostic. Images obtained by the EO-1 are analyzed on-board and down linked when a change or interesting event occurs. The ASE software has successfully provided over 10,000 science images. This experiment was the start of many that NASA devised for AI to impact the future of space exploration.

Artificial Intelligence Flight Adviser

NASA's goal with this project is to develop a system that can aid pilots by giving them real-time expert advice in situations that pilot training does not cover or just aid with a pilot's train of thought during flight. Based on the IBM Watson cognitive computing system, the AI Flight Adviser pulls data from a large database of relevant information like aircraft manuals, accident reports, and close-call reports to give advice to pilots. In the future, NASA wants to implement this technology to create fully autonomous systems, which can then be used for space exploration. In this case, cognitive systems will serve as the basis, and the autonomous system will completely decide on the course of action of the mission, even during unforeseen situations. However, in order for this to happen, there are still many supporting technologies required. In the future, NASA hopes to use this technology not only in flights on earth, but for future space exploration. Essentially, NASA plans to modify this AI flight Advisor for Longer range applications. In addition to what the technology is now, there will be additional cognitive computing systems that can decide on the right set of actions based upon unforeseen problems in space. However, in order for this to be possible, there are still many supporting technologies that need to be enhanced.

Stereo vision for collision avoidance

For this project, NASA's goal is to implement stereo vision for collision avoidance in space systems to work with and support autonomous operations in a flight environment. This technology uses two cameras within its operating system that have the same view, but when put together offer a large range of data that gives a binocular image. Because of its duo-camera system, NASA's research indicate that this technology can detect hazards in rural and wilderness flight environments. Because of this project, NASA has made major contributions toward developing a completely autonomous UAV. Currently, Stereo Vision can construct a stereo vision system, process the vision data, make sure the system works properly, and lastly performs tests figuring out the range of impeding objects and terrain. In the future, NASA hopes this technology can also determine the path to avoid collision. The near-term goal for the technology is to be able to extract information from point clouds and place this information in a historic map data. Using this map, the technology could then be able to extrapolate obstacles and features in the stereo data that are not in the map data. This would aid with the future of space exploration where humans can't see moving, impeding objects that may damage the moving space craft.

Benefits of AI

Autonomous technologies would be able to perform beyond predetermined actions. They would analyze all possible states and events happening around them and come up with a safe response. In addition, such technologies can reduce launch cost and ground involvement. Performance would increase as well. Autonomy would be able to quickly respond upon encountering an unforeseen event, especially in deep space exploration where communication back to Earth would take too long. Space exploration could provide us with the knowledge of our universe as well as incidentally developing inventions and innovations. Traveling to Mars and farther could encourage the development of advances in medicine, health, longevity, transportation, communications that could have applications on Earth.

Robotic space craft development


Solar Panels Changes in space craft development will have to account for an increased energy need for future systems. Spacecrafts heading towards the center of our solar system will include enhanced solar panel technology to make use of the abundant solar energy surrounding them. Future solar panel development is aimed at their working more efficiently while being lighter.

Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators are solid-state devices which have no moving parts. They generate heat from the radioactive decay of elements such as plutonium, and have a typical lifespan of more than 30 years. In the future, atomic sources of energy for spacecraft will hopefully be lighter and last longer than they do currently. They could be particularly useful for missions to the Outer Solar System which receives substantially less sunlight, meaning that producing a substantial power output with solar panels would be impractical.

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