The International Space Station (ISS) is a manned research space facility that is being assembled in orbit around the Earth. It is a joint project between five space agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

The space station is located in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of approximately 360 km (220 miles), a type of orbit usually termed low Earth orbit. It orbits Earth in a period of about 92 minutes; by June 2005 it had completed more than 37,500 orbits since launch.

Due to the ISS, there is a permanent human presence in space, as there have always been at least two people on board ISS since the first permanent crew entered the ISS on November 2, 2000. It is serviced primarily by the Soyuz, Progress spacecraft units and Space Shuttle. The ISS is currently still under construction with a projected completion date of 2010. At present, the station has a capacity for a crew of three. Prior to ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter joining the Expedition 13 crew in July 2006, all permanent crewmembers have come from the Russian or United States space programs. The ISS has however been visited by astronauts from twelve countries and was also the destination of the first four space tourists.


The Blue Danube is a waltz composed in 1867 by Johann Strauss the Younger. It has been one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire and was prominently featured in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey".