International Space Station Benefits for Humanity

Almost as soon as the International Space Station (ISS) was habitable, researchers began using it to study the impact of microgravity and other space effects on several aspects of our daily lives. This unique scientific platform continues to enable researchers from all over the world to put their talents to work with innovative experiments that could not be done anywhere else. The unified goal is to share the resulting knowledge for the betterment of humanity. We may not know yet what will be the most important discovery gained from the space station, but we already have some amazing breakthroughs! In the areas of human health, telemedicine, education and observations of Earth from space, there are already demonstrated benefits to human life. Vaccine development research, station-generated images that assist with disaster relief and farming, and education programs that inspire future scientists, engineers and space explorers are just some examples of research benefits. This book summarizes the scientific, technological and educational accomplishments of research on the space station that has and will continue to have an impact on life on Earth.

Human Health

The space station is a unique laboratory for performing investigations that affect human health both in space and here on Earth. Over its 10 years of assembly, the space station has supported research that is providing a better understanding of certain aspects of human health encountered, such as aging, trauma, disease and the environment. Several biological and human physiological investigations have yielded important results, including improved understandings of basic physiological processes normally masked by gravity, and development of new medical technology and protocols driven by the need to support astronaut health. Advances in telemedicine, disease models, psychological stress response systems, nutrition, cell behavior, and environmental health are just a few examples of benefits that have been gained from the unique space station microgravity environment.

Earth Observation and Disaster Response

The space station is a "Global observation and diagnosis station." It promotes international Earth observations aimed at understanding and resolving environmental issues of our home planet. The space station offers a unique vantage for observing the Earth's ecosystems with both hands-on and automated equipment, both of which benefit from the crew's faculty for observing and explaining what they witness in real time. Station crews can observe and collect camera images of unfolding events as they occur and may also provide input to ground controllers for the programmed observations of the station's automated Earth-sensing systems. This flexibility is an advantage over sensors on unmanned spacecraft, especially when unexpected natural events such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. A wide variety of Earth observation payloads can be attached to the exposed facilities on the station's exterior; several instruments are proposed by researchers from the partner countries. The station contributes to humanity by collecting data on the global climate, environmental change and natural hazards using its unique compliment of crew-operated and automated Earth observation payloads. The existing international partnerships that are fundamental to the ISS facilitate data sharing that can benefit people around the world and promote international collaboration on other Earth observation activities.

Global Education

The space station has a unique ability to capture the imaginations of both students and teachers worldwide. The presence of humans onboard station for the past ten years has provided a foundation for numerous educational activities aimed at capturing that interest and motivating study in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. Projects such as the Amateur Radio on ISS or ARISS, Earth Knowledge-based Acquired by Middle Schools or EarthKAM and Take your Classroom into Space events among others have allowed for global student, teacher and public access to space through student image acquisition and radio contacts with crewmembers. Educational activities are not limited to STEM but encompass all aspects of the human condition. This is well illustrated in the Uchu Renshi project, a chain poem initiated by an astronaut while in space and continued and completed by people on Earth. With ISS operations at least until 2020, projects like these and their accompanying educational materials will be made available to more students around the world. Through the continued use of the station we will challenge and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, writers, artists, politicians, and explorers.

The benefits outlined here serve as examples of the potential of the space station as a groundbreaking scientific research facility. Through advancing the state of scientific knowledge of our planet, looking after our health, and providing a space platform that inspires and educates the science and technology leaders of tomorrow, these benefits will drive the legacy of the space station as its research strengthens economies and enhances the quality of life here on Earth for all people.

International Partners

Space Agencies Websites
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) CSA English Website | CSA French Website
European Space Agency (ESA) ESA English Website
Italian Space Agency (ASI) ASI English Website | ASI Italian Website
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) JAXA English Website | JAXA Japanese Website
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) NASA English Website
Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) Russian Space Agency English Website | Russian Space Agency Russian Website