Lesson Plan |NASA Home and City

Global School Project
The University of South Florida
Social Studies Education Program
Title: From the Cold War Space Race to Global Cooperation: Exploring the
International Space Station
Author: Kelly R. Miliziano
Concept/Main Idea of Lesson: Students will understand the evolution,
history and purpose of the ISS from the 1950s Cold War to the present Age
of Global Interdependence.
Duration of Lesson(s): There are four parts to this lesson. Each part is
designed to take a minimum of one class period. Lesson B and C are best
conducted in a computer lab. However, teachers can select the experiment
and print them out for distribution to students so that the lesson can be
conducted in the classroom setting.
Intended Grade Level: 6-12
Infusion/Subject Area(s): Civics, Government, World History, American
History, Global Studies, Economics
National Curriculum Standards:
National History Standards (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards)
American History
Era 9
Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
Era 10
Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
Instructional Objectives:
A. Students will explore the evolution, history and purpose of the ISS
from the 1950s Cold War to the present Age of Global
B. Students will explore the scientific collaboration aboard the ISS by the
various experiments conducted on the ISS.
C. Students will explore the many ways space exploration impacts daily
D. Students will write a proposal to Congress outlining a position on the
future of the Space Program in the United States.
Learning Activities Sequence:
Lesson A
Objective: Students will explore the evolution, history and purpose of the
ISS from the 1950s Cold War to the present Age of Global Interdependence.
Step 1: Show a picture of the ISS without telling the students what it is.
Ask the following:
Can anyone tell me what this picture is?
Who constructed it?
When was it started?
Where was it launched from?
Who are the international partners?
What purpose does it serve?
Step 2:
Tell students they will watch a short video clip. As students watch this short
video, tell them to key an eye out for images that show this is indeed an
international space station. (Hint: pictures of country flags, insignia from
different countries, the different nationalities of the astronauts…etc.) They
should record their observation in the handout provided titled: “What Kind
of World Do You Want?”
Show the video clip What Kind of World Do You Want?
Video Clip file included or visit the following web address:
Step 3: Debrief the video assignment. Ask students to tell what they
observed and recorded as they watched the video.
Step 4: Have students write down the following prompt before they watch
the video clip.
Watch the video clip. “A Global Partnership for All Mankind,” at
Step 5: Optional Reading assignment. Students will read the article on the
ISS and write one sentence summaries for each paragraph. Article 1 also
gives details about the International Space Station that complements the
Closing: Students write a paragraph answering the following writing
prompt: Why would countries want to share space exploration? What
challenges does this global partnership have?
Lesson B
Objective: Students will explore the scientific collaboration aboard the ISS
by the various experiments conducted on the ISS.
Step 1: Divide students into groups of 3-4. Teacher can either select an
experiment for each group or allow students to browse experiments online at
the NASA Website. Experiments are listed by….
Category | Date | Expedition | Partners | Experiment Name
Step 2: Students should read the experiment, summarize the findings and
prepare to report back to the class.
Step 3: Student groups present the summary of the experiment their selected
or were assigned. Classmates record the information in the Handout titled
ISS Experiments.
Closing: Once all groups have presented, students reconvene in their group
and review the various experiments. They should come to a consensus on
which experiment or experiments they believe have the greatest importance
to the human existence and why.
Lesson C
Objective: Students will explore the many ways space exploration impacts
daily life.
Step 1: This activity is a web quest and must be done in a computer lab or
media center.
Step 2: Direct students to the following website. Students will fill in the
chart titled Handout NASA Home and City, with information from each
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/index.html clip on the lower left column
NASA Home and City
Discover how space exploration impacts your daily life.
Step 3
Closing: After completing the web quest students can reconvene in their
groups and decided which areas of our lives seem to be impacted the most
by ISS research. Each group will report back to the class.
Lesson D
Objective: Students will write a proposal to Congress outlining a position
on the future of the Space Program in the United States.
Step 1: Using information from the lessons above or the Articles 1-3,
students should create an outline of their main points.
Step 2: Students will write their proposals
Closing: Students can present their proposals to their classmates.
Suggested Teacher Readings:
Discovery Education. http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/free-
Lessons that explore the science and physics involved in the ISS.
PBS. http://www.pbs.org/spacestation/resources.htm
Comprehensive list of resources for teaching about the ISS including the
different International Space Agencies
International Space Station
Facts and Figures
Image above: The International Space Station's length and width is about
the size of a football field. Credit: NASA
The International Space Station marks its 10th anniversary of
continuous human occupation on Nov. 2, 2010. Since Expedition 1, which
launched Oct. 31, 2000, and docked Nov. 2, the space station has been
visited by 196 individuals from eight different countries.
At the time of the anniversary, the station’s odometer will read more
than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the
Sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the Earth. Since the first
module, Zarya, launched at 1:40 a.m. EST on Nov. 20, 1998, it has made
a total of 68,519 orbits of our home planet, or about 1.7 billion miles on its
As of the Nov. 2 anniversary date there have been 103 launches to
the space station: 67 Russian vehicles, 34 space shuttles, one European
and one Japanese vehicle. A total of 150 spacewalks have been
conducted in support of space station assembly totaling more than 944
The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of
a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and weighs 827,794 pounds.
The complex now has more livable room than a conventional fivebedroom house, and has two bathrooms and a gymnasium.
Additional launches will continue to augment these facts and
figures, so check back here for the latest.
International Space Station Size & Mass
Module Length: 167.3 feet (51 meters)
Truss Length: 357.5 feet (109 meters)
Solar Array Length: 239.4 feet (73 meters)
Mass: 816,349 lb (370,290 kilograms)
Habitable Volume: 12,705 cubic feet (360 cubic meters)
Pressurized Volume: 29,561 cubic feet (837 cubic meters)
Power Generation: 8 solar arrays = 84 kilowatts
Lines of Computer Code: approximately 2.3 million
International Space Station at Completion
Image above: Expedition 22 Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov wears
a Russian Orlan spacesuit during a spacewalk. Credit: NASA
The ISS solar array surface area could cover the U.S. Senate Chamber
three times over.
ISS eventually will be larger than a five-bedroom house.
ISS will have an internal pressurized volume of 33,023 cubic feet, or
equal that of a Boeing 747.
The solar array wingspan (240 ft) is longer than that of a Boeing 777
200/300 model, which is 212 ft.
Fifty-two computers will control the systems on the ISS.
More than 100 space flights will have been conducted on five different
types of launch vehicles over the course of the station’s
More than 100 telephone-booth sized rack facilities can be in the ISS for
operating the spacecraft systems and research experiments
The ISS is almost four times as large as the Russian space station Mir,
and about five times as large as the U.S. Skylab.
The ISS will weigh almost one million pounds (925,627 lbs). That’s the
equivalent of more than 320 automobiles.
The ISS measures 357 feet end-to-end. That’s equivalent to the length
of a football field including the end zones (well, almost – a football
field is 360 feet).
3.3 million lines of software code on the ground supports 1.8 million
lines of flight software code.
8 miles of wire connects the electrical power system.
In the International Space Station’s U.S. segment alone, 1.5 million lines
of flight software code will run on 44 computers communicating via
100 data networks transferring 400,000 signals (e.g. pressure or
temperature measurements, valve positions, etc.).
The ISS will manage 20 times as many signals as the Space Shuttle.
Main U.S. control computers have 1.5 gigabytes of total main hard drive
storage in U.S. segment compared to modern PCs, which have
~500 gigabyte hard drives.
The entire 55-foot robot arm assembly is capable of lifting 220,000
pounds, which is the weight of a Space Shuttle orbiter.
The 75 to 90 kilowatts of power for the ISS is supplied by an acre of solar panels.
Space Station Offers Harsh Lesson
Copyright © 2011 Aviation Week, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Jun 29, 2011
By Amy Svitak
Le Bourget
Despite its status as a shining example of international cooperation, the
International Space Station has a harsh lesson to teach the five-member
global partnership that built it: Unilateral decision-making can lead to chaos.
Since NASA decided to end its aging cargo- and crew-carrying space shuttle
program—a 2005 decision slated to take effect this summer—international
partners contributing to the orbiting space complex, including NASA, have
devised their own means of accessing the ISS. The result, according to
European Space Agency (ESA) chief Jean-Jacques Dordain, is a crazy-quilt of
smaller, less-capable cargo-hauling vehicles supplied by Europe, Japan, Russia
and eventually the United States. Even worse, in the wake of the shuttle’s
retirement, space station astronauts will have to rely solely on Russian Soyuz
capsules to reach the orbiting outpost for the foreseeable future.
“The most important lesson we can draw from the ISS program is precisely
the lack of a common transportation policy, which means today we are in a
not very comfortable situation,” Dordain said June 20 at the Paris air show.
While unilateral decisions to develop unique space transportation systems
were justifiable, in hindsight, Dordain says, Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia
and the U.S. could have done more to reach common ground.
“It was anarchy, let’s be clear about it,” he said.
In addition to Europe’s Ariane 5-launched Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV),
Japan’s H-2 Transfer Vehicle and Russia’s Progress cargo hauler, NASA is
backing development of privately built space freighters, including the Dragon
capsule, built by Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX, and the Cygnus cargo
module, from Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.
“Do we really need all of these?” Dordain asks. “This is a situation that results
from a lack of consistency and consultation in the area of transportation.”
Looking forward, Dordain hopes space-faring nations can avoid making a
similar mistake as they embark on plans to build new rockets and spacecraft
capable of sending humans beyond low Earth orbit.
“My concern is that we should discuss and debate a common transportation
policy with our partners,” he says. “We have to talk about common interfaces,
what redundancies we need in the systems and once we have defined
common needs, we’ll have to see who can do what on the basis of common
interests being developed.”
Dordain says ESA has already initiated talks with U.S. partners for potential
future collaboration in the area of manned spaceflight. Since May, he notes,
ESA and NASA have been talking about a plan to build a joint U.S.-European
spacecraft based on existing designs that could ferry astronauts to the space
station and on missions to the Moon and beyond.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says Europe has much to offer the U.S.
space agency, which expects to rely increasingly on international partners as
looming federal deficits put downward pressure on federal discretionary
spending. As NASA finalizes designs for a Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)
and a new heavy-lift rocket capable of sending humans beyond low Earth
orbit, Bolden has encouraged U.S. companies to team with European firms.
“It is my hope that we’ll be able to have Europeans in the critical path
somewhere in the exploration initiative,” Bolden told Aviation Week, shortly
before he attended a meeting with Dordain. The ESA director general raised
the potential for a joint manned exploration initiative to combine the service
module of the EADS Astrium-built ATV with NASA’s crew-capable MPCV, a
space capsule based on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in development by
Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the past six years. “If you look at what
ATV’s capability is, what has been demonstrated, you can see where that has
potential for use as a service module, for example,” Bolden says. “There’s all
kinds of opportunities that exist based on demonstrated capability from our
European partners.”
Dordain, adding that Europe has no plans to develop its own manned
spaceflight capability, says a joint U.S.-European program would afford ESA
member states an opportunity to capitalize on their investment in the ATV
while exploring ways to cover Europe’s share of common operations costs
associated with the space station.
Currently ESA expects to have no money available for ATV modifications
beyond what it pays NASA for Europe’s share of the station’s operating costs
through 2020. That figure is estimated at about $100 million. Dordain says
the two sides are shooting for a rough outline of the joint vehicle concept and
its development costs by fall, allowing ample time for ESA member states to
evaluate the proposal ahead of their budget-setting ministerial council at the
end of 2012.
“We should converge towards the fall of this year toward possibly not even
one single vehicle but at least toward one module that would make it possible
to then have some derivatives in the future with one vehicle dedicated to the
U.S., for instance, and one that Europeans could use in other circumstances,”
he says.
Credit: ESA
The International Space Station
The International Space Station is the largest and most complex
international scientific project in history. And when it is complete
just after the turn of the century, the the station will represent a
move of unprecedented scale off the home planet. Led by the
United States, the International Space Station draws upon the
scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada,
Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency and
More than four times as large as the Russian Mir space
station, the completed International Space Station will have a
mass of about 1,040,000 pounds. It will measure 356 feet across
and 290 feet long, with almost an acre of solar panels to provide
electrical power to six state-of-the-art laboratories.
The station will be in an orbit with an altitude of 250 statute
miles with an inclination of 51.6 degrees. This orbit allows the
station to be reached by the launch vehicles of all the
international partners to provide a robust capability for the
delivery of crews and supplies. The orbit also provides excellent
Earth observations with coverage of 85 percent of the globe and
over flight of 95 percent of the population. By the end of this
year, about 500,000 pounds of station components will be have
been built at factories around the world.
U.S. Role and Contributions
The United States has the responsibility for developing and
ultimately operating major elements and systems aboard the
station. The U.S. elements include three connecting modules, or
nodes; a laboratory module; truss segments; four solar arrays; a
habitation module; three mating adapters; a cupola; an
unpressurized logistics carrier and a centrifuge module. The
various systems being developed by the U.S. include thermal
control; life support; guidance, navigation and control; data
handling; power systems; communications and tracking; ground
operations facilities and launch-site processing facilities.
International Contributions
The international partners, Canada, Japan, the European Space
Agency, and Russia, will contribute the following key elements to
the International Space Station:
· Canada is providing a 55-foot-long robotic arm to be used for
assembly and maintenance tasks on the Space Station.
· The European Space Agency is building a pressurized
laboratory to be launched on the Space Shuttle and logistics
transport vehicles to be launched on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
· Japan is building a laboratory with an attached exposed
exterior platform for experiments as well as logistics transport
· Russia is providing two research modules; an early living
quarters called the Service Module with its own life support and
habitation systems; a science power platform of solar arrays that
can supply about 20 kilowatts of electrical power; logistics
transport vehicles; and Soyuz spacecraft for crew return and
In addition, Brazil and Italy are contributing some equipment to
the station through agreements with the United States.
ISS Phase One: The Shuttle-Mir Program
The first phase of the International Space Station, the ShuttleMir Program, began in 1995 and involved more than two years
of continuous stays by astronauts aboard the Russian Mir
Space Station and nine Shuttle-Mir docking missions.
Knowledge was gained in technology, international space
operations and scientific research.
Seven U.S. astronauts spent a cumulative total of 32 months
aboard Mir with 28 months of continuous occupancy since
March 1996. By contrast, it took the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet
more than a dozen years and 60 flights to achieve an
accumulated one year in orbit. Many of the research programs
planned for the International Space Station benefit from longer
stay times in space. The U.S. science program aboard the Mir
was a pathfinder for more ambitious experiments planned for
the new station.
For less than two percent of the total cost of the International
Space Station program, NASA gained knowledge and
experience through Shuttle-Mir that could not be achieved any
other way. That included valuable experience in international
crew training activities; the operation of an international space
program; and the challenges of long duration spaceflight for
astronauts and ground controllers. Dealing with the real-time
challenges experienced during Shuttle-Mir missions also has
resulted in an unprecedented cooperation and trust between the
U.S. and Russian space programs, and that cooperation and
trust has enhanced the development of the International Space
Research on the International Space Station
The International Space Station will establish an unprecedented
state-of-the-art laboratory complex in orbit, more than four times
the size and with almost 60 times the electrical power for
experiments — critical for research capability — of Russia's Mir.
Research in the station's six laboratories will lead to discoveries
in medicine, materials and fundamental science that will benefit
people all over the world. Through its research and technology,
the station also will serve as an indispensable step in
preparation for future human space exploration.
Examples of the types of U.S. research that will be performed
aboard the station include:
· Protein crystal studies: More pure protein crystals may be
grown in space than on Earth. Analysis of these crystals helps
scientists better understand the nature of proteins, enzymes
and viruses, perhaps leading to the development of new drugs
and a better understanding of the fundamental building blocks
of life. Similar experiments have been conducted on the Space
Shuttle, although they are limited by the short duration of
Shuttle flights. This type of research could lead to the study of
possible treatments for cancer, diabetes, emphysema and
immune system disorders, among other research.
· Tissue culture: Living cells can be grown in a laboratory
environment in space where they are not distorted by gravity.
NASA already has developed a Bioreactor device that is used
on Earth to simulate, for such cultures, the effect of reduced
gravity. Still, these devices are limited by gravity. Growing
cultures for long periods aboard the station will further advance
this research. Such cultures can be used to test new treatments
for cancer without risking harm to patients, among other uses.
· Life in low gravity: The effects of long-term exposure to
reduced gravity on humans – weakening muscles; changes in
how the heart, arteries and veins work; and the loss of bone
density, among others – will be studied aboard the station.
Studies of these effects may lead to a better understanding of
the body’s systems and similar ailments on Earth. A thorough
understanding of such effects and possible methods of
counteracting them is needed to prepare for future long-term
human exploration of the solar system. In addition, studies of
the gravitational effects on plants, animals and the function of
living cells will be conducted aboard the station. A centrifuge,
located in the Centrifuge Accommodation Module, will use
centrifugal force to generate simulated gravity ranging from
almost zero to twice that of Earth. This facility will imitate Earth’s
gravity for comparison purposes; eliminate variables in
experiments; and simulate the gravity on the Moon or Mars for
experiments that can provide information useful for future space
· Flames, fluids and metal in space: Fluids, flames, molten
metal and other materials will be the subject of basic research
on the station. Even flames burn differently without gravity.
Reduced gravity reduces convection currents, the currents that
cause warm air or fluid to rise and cool air or fluid to sink on
Earth. This absence of convection alters the flame shape in
orbit and allows studies of the combustion process that are
impossible on Earth, a research field called Combustion
Science. The absence of convection allows molten metals or
other materials to be mixed more thoroughly in orbit than on
Earth. Scientists plan to study this field, called Materials
Science, to create better metal alloys and more perfect
materials for applications such as computer chips. The study of
all of these areas may lead to developments that can enhance
many industries on Earth.
· The nature of space: Some experiments aboard the station will
take place on the exterior of the station modules. Such exterior
experiments can study the space environment and how longterm exposure to space, the vacuum and the debris, affects
materials. This research can provide future spacecraft
designers and scientists a better understanding of the nature of
space and enhance spacecraft design. Some experiments will
study the basic forces of nature, a field called Fundamental
Physics, where experiments take advantage of weightlessness
to study forces that are weak and difficult to study when subject
to gravity on Earth. Experiments in this field may help explain
how the universe developed. Investigations that use lasers to
cool atoms to near absolute zero may help us understand
gravity itself. In addition to investigating basic questions about
nature, this research could lead to down-to-Earth developments
that may include clocks a thousand times more accurate than
today’s atomic clocks; better weather forecasting; and stronger
· Watching the Earth: Observations of the Earth from orbit help
the study of large-scale, long-term changes in the environment.
Studies in this field can increase understanding of the forests,
oceans and mountains. The effects of volcanoes, ancient
meteorite impacts, hurricanes and typhoons can be studied. In
addition, changes to the Earth that are caused by the human
race can be observed. The effects of air pollution, such as
smog over cities; of deforestation, the cutting and burning of
forests; and of water pollution, such as oil spills, are visible
from space and can be captured in images that provide a
global perspective unavailable from the ground.
· Commercialization: As part of the Commercialization of space
research on the station, industries will participate in research by
conducting experiments and studies aimed at developing new
products and services. The results may benefit those on Earth
not only by providing innovative new products as a result, but
also by creating new jobs to make the products.
Assembly in Orbit
By the end of this year, most of the components required for
the first seven Space Shuttle missions to assemble the
International Space Station will have arrived at the Kennedy
Space Center. The first and primary fully Russian contribution
to the station, the Service Module, is scheduled to be shipped
from Moscow to the Kazakstan launch site in February 1999.
Orbital assembly of the International Space Station will begin a
new era of hands-on work in space, involving more spacewalks
than ever before and a new generation of space robotics.
About 850 clock hours of spacewalks, both U.S. and Russian,
will be required over five years to maintain and assemble the
station. The Space Shuttle and two types of Russian launch
vehicles will launch 45 assembly missions. Of these, 36 will be
Space Shuttle flights. In addition, resupply missions and
changeouts of Soyuz crew return spacecraft will be launched
The first crew to live aboard the International Space Station,
commanded by U.S. astronaut Bill Shepherd and including
Russian cosomonauts Yuri Gidzenko as Soyuz Commander
and Sergei Krikalev as Flight Engineer, will be launched in
early 2000 on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They, along with
the crews of the first five assembly missions, are now in
training. The timetable and sequence of flights for assembly,
beyond the first two, will be further refined at a meeting of all
the international partners in December 1998. Assembly is
planned to be complete by 2004.