International Space Station

The International Space Station is a habitable satellite in low-earth orbit. It travels around the Earth once every 90 minutes at an approximate speed of 18,000 miles per hour. Humans have been continuously living and working aboard it since the year 2000, and there are usually six crew members aboard.


Simply put, the ISS is a huge space research lab where experiments across various fields of study are carried out. It has a long tradition of providing educational outreach opportunities by running student-developed experiments on the station, and by directly speaking to members of the public using HAM radio, email, and social media. Astro Pi is an example of this kind of outreach.

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake was the first Briton to ever go aboard the station. A number of educational payloads were sent to the ISS prior to his arrival, which included Astro Pi. Now that Tim’s mission is complete, the two Astro Pis will remain aboard the station until 2022, as a lasting contribution from the UK space industry.

The Astro Pis were deployed inside the European Space Agency’s Columbus module.


On a clear night, the ISS is visible to the naked eye in most parts of the world. It looks like a very bright, fast-moving star crossing the sky in only a few minutes. If you want to spot the station, go here.