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Space Stations



Space Stations
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.25

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    astronomical, ultimate, launched, spacecraft, better, docked, module, passageway, weightless, Crewmembers, shuttle, laboratory, maintain, cosmonaut, permanent, provided
     content words:    International Space Station, Soviet Union, United States, In July, Indian Ocean, Great Britain, Valery Polyakov, Yuri Romanenko, South Pacific, European Space Agency


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Space Stations
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     The ultimate space dream may be only a few years away. NASA and other major space agencies around the world have been working on the International Space Station (ISS). A space station or space platform is an artificial earth satellite that is placed into orbit with a crew. Think of it as a laboratory floating in space. Once on a space station, scientists can make astronomical observations, process zero gravity materials, and assemble, refuel, and repair satellites. Space stations can also be used as platforms for weapons.
 
2     In April 1971, the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the world's first space station called Salyut 1. Soyuz 10, a Russian spacecraft, docked at this station; however, its crew did not enter the station. The Soyuz 11, launched two months later, docked at the station and its cosmonauts (Russian astronauts) entered the station. They remained on the station for 22 days. Russia launched and orbited five more Salyut space stations successfully. Crewmembers were rotated so that the station could be maintained for long periods. Today these space stations no longer orbit the earth because they have decayed.
 
3     In May 1973, the United States launched and orbited the Skylab. This was the U.S.'s only true space station. There were three three-person crews. The last crew remained on board for 84 days, which was a record for living in space at that time. On the Skylab, astronauts conducted biomedical studies on weightlessness and used photographs of the earth to monitor volcanoes and earthquake faults. Astronauts also studied comets and asteroids and studied how metals were affected in weightless environments. In July 1974, the Skylab fell to earth. Debris or pieces from the space station were found in parts of Australia and the Indian Ocean.

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