The International Space Station, (Also known as the ISS for short) was a primary location in Gravity.
The ISS is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, it follows the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations, and Skylab from the U.S. The ISS is a modular structure whose first component was launched in 1998. Now the largest artificial body in orbit, it can often be seen at the appropriate time with the naked eye from Earth. The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components. ISS components have been launched by American Space Shuttles as well as Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets. Budget constraints led to the merger of three space station projects with the Japanese Kibō module and Canadian robotics. In 1993 the partially built components for a Soviet/Russian space station Mir-2, the proposed American Freedom, and the proposed European Columbus merged into a single multinational program. The ISS is arguably the most expensive single item ever constructed.
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. Since the arrival of Expedition 1 on 2 November 2000, the station has been continuously occupied for 13 years and 35 days, the longest continuous human presence in space. (In 2010, the station surpassed the previous record of almost 10 years (or 3,634 days) held by Mir.) The station is serviced by a variety of visiting spacecraft: Soyuz, Progress, the Automated Transfer Vehicle, the H-II Transfer Vehicle, Dragon, and Cygnus. It has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.
The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA, Roskosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA. The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. The station is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations.
The ISS maintains an orbit with an altitude of between 330 km (205 mi) and 435 km (270 mi) by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda module or visiting spacecraft. It completes 15.51 orbits per day. The ISS is funded until 2020, and may operate until 2028. The Russian Federal Space Agency, Roskosmos (RKA) has proposed using the ISS to commission modules for a new space station, called OPSEK, before the remainder of the ISS is deorbited.
Role in Gravity
The ISS made an appearance in Gravity and was a major location in the film.
While it was likely that the people of other nationalities are on board the station, only Russian cosmonauts are heard in the film. After the Russians conducted a missile strike on a defunct satellite and created a hazardous debris field, Houston's Mission Control contacted the ISS and ordered them to evacuate the station. The crew members evacuated on board one of the Soyuz modules while the other one was damaged and deployed it's chute accidentally. The station itself recieved moderate damage with most of the damage located on the solar panels.
The American astronauts, Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski later arrived at the ISS in an attempt to return to Earth after their space shuttle was destroyed. Kowalski died trying to reach the ISS while Stone survived and entered the abandoned station, not noticing the small balls of flame coming from a damaged fuse box.
These flaming sparks apparently caused a catastrophic fire that ravaged the space station, forcing Stone to evacuate with the remaining damaged Soyuz model. Right as Stone was leaving the ISS, the debris field recircled the Earth and hit the space station causing an explosion that blasted the ISS in half while the debris tore the station to pieces.
The remains of the ISS remained in orbit and presumably burned up after entering Earth's atmosphere.
- Gravity is 90 minutes long. In real life, the International Space Station travels at approximately 17,500 mph, and orbits the earth every 90 minutes. The debris field also circles the earth every 90 minutes.