How Many Space Stations are There in Space Now & How Many Does Earth Need?

A space station orbits our planet and acts as a “residence” for astronauts that welcomes ships from our planet.

Before finding out how many space stations are there, let’s learn a few things about how they function. This structure is like a laboratory, and several nations collaborate not only to construct but also to work on it. Keep in mind that space stations are not a single piece but rather built with multiple parts that were assembled in orbit by astronauts. They are used by NASA or other space organizations to learn what living in space means and how we could work there. This tech will help with future space exploration. This serves as a platform from which astronauts may conduct surveys of our planet and gain insight into the Universe’s secrets.

How many space stations are there?

As of 2022, there are two orbital stations in the Earth’s low orbit, and both are fully functioning. So, what space stations are in orbit right now? Those are the International Space Station (ISS) and China’s Tiangong Space Station (TSS). Almas, Skylab, Mir, Salyut, and Tiangong-1 are some early stations that have been functioning before but now are gone. The ISS and TSS are both fully functioning and inhabited by astronauts who are monitoring our planet, other celestial bodies, or what happens beyond our solar system. What’s also very interesting about life on the ISS is that astronauts are growing plants in their ‘cosmic habitats’. Living in space no longer seems such a distant dream hearing this, doesn’t it?

The number of satellites orbiting Earth should be mentioned here as well, even if space stations and satellites are two different things. Inhabited by humans, a satellite isn’t. However, one can make confuse these two because both are used for imaging, navigation, and communication. The Earth has 4,550 satellites in orbit for now, and this number is very likely to increase, especially since aerospace engineers are working on developing nanosatellites. However this may raise the interest and curiosity of more people because it brings us closer to what life in space means. 

How many space stations does Earth need?

It’s not easy to determine how many our planet needs, seeing that a new era of cosmic exploration is set to put us on the right path of finding out more about the mysteries of our Universe. Besides, enthusiasts such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are working hard to make a more viable option for those who want to conduct business in orbit. Their plans to colonize other planets will surely require the uses, so the construction of new such structures is set to enter a brand-new era.

In addition to a prior proposal made by Axiom Space, NASA has now released three further commercial station proposals for future development. Outside the framework established by government organizations, these suggestions constitute the first efforts to design environments where people may live and have no problem working in space. These plans are included in what is being referred to as “Space 4.0,” a concept in which commercial possibilities drive technological advancements in orbit. 

Are space stations far from Earth?

Next question is, how far are space stations from Earth? Generally, a space station location should be about 400 kilometers (250 miles) above our planet’s surface. The ISS orbits at an approximate distance of 420 km (227 miles), whereas the TSS is at an altitude of 340 – 450 km (211 – 280 miles). The TSS was released from a reel located in the payload compartment of an orbiter and sent upward to a height of up to 20 km (32 miles) from this orbiter. 

Now, you might ask if you can see a space station from Earth. The answer is yes, you can see both the ISS and the TSS very easily from our planet. The colossal ISS structure reflects sunlight, which means that when looking at the sky, you can notice there’s a white light pinpointed out there. This is the ISS. NASA announces on its official website when a station is visible, either during the day or at night, and an online magazine Orbital Today will make sure to keep you posted too.

Wrapping it all, let’s think about how many our planet actually need? Right now, there is no definite answer to that because the number of operating stations will depend on how actively we explore space. However, one thing is certain — more stations are yet to come.

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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