Google Celebrates 20 Years of the ISS With Virtual Tours, 3D Rendering


(Photo via NASA)

Twenty years ago, the first crew of permanent astronauts, cosmonauts, and researchers arrived at their new home on the International Space Station. Today, Google and NASA are commemorating the anniversary with an online celebration of facts, stories, and games.

Google Arts & Culture’s new ISS 20 page(Opens in a new window) is a rabbit hole of interstellar information where you can easily get lost for hours in renderings, tours, videos, quizzes, experiments, puzzles, even coloring books. In a platform first, visitors can explore a 3D model of the ISS, “making it possible to bring the station back down to Earth and undertake fascinating examinations of each module of the station in incredible detail,” program manager Simon Delacroix wrote in a blog announcement(Opens in a new window).

Also debuting this week is the multiplayer Puzzle Party experiment: Work virtually with family and friends to piece together photographs from NASA’s ISS archives, including images of exterior views, an astronaut spacewalk, and a rocket launch.

“I have dedicated 36 years of my life following and reporting on this incredible human adventure and the amazing achievements of the ISS,” Gary Kitmacher, mission manager for ISS Communications and Education, said in a statement. “Partnering with Google Arts & Culture on this ISS 20th Project enables NASA to bring these stories to a new audience.”

Permanent human occupancy of the ISS began on Nov. 2, 2000, when Expedition 1 commander William Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev entered the floating laboratory. In the two decades since, more than 240 people from 19 countries visited the space station, which has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations.

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Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website today at 11:10 am ET for an in-orbit news conference(Opens in a new window) with astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. This year’s launch anniversary also coincides with a rare Blue Moon(Opens in a new window).

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