Current Location of the International Space Station (ISS)

Tools provide information on the position of the International Space Station (ISS) above the Earth. Others are used to anticipate its trajectory and note the times the ISS will pass over France in 2024, and in which direction to look.

The International Space Station (ISS) will be operational at least until 2031. Then, it will be deorbited and rushed far from any land, to Point Nemo, the area of ​​the Pacific Ocean which is furthest from any shore. Until then, the ISS will continue to welcome tourists, but also and above all professional astronauts, whether American, European, Russian or Japanese.

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The ISS, which is now more than twenty years old (the first modules date from 1998), is facing a lack of interest from major space agencies, notably NASA, whose thoughts are increasingly focused on the Moon and Mars. It is also in orbit around the Moon that a future space station will be assembled, in order to prepare the return of astronauts to the Moon.

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Source: NASA Johnson

Where is the ISS now?

Live station position

Throughout its journey, you have the possibility of knowing in real time where the ISS is in orbit around the Earth. All you need to do is to go to a dedicated page of the European Space Agency (ESA). This tracking is a good way to know if the ISS is passing over your home and when. Indeed, it is possible to distinguish the station with the naked eye, if the weather permits.

Orbiting the Earth, it only takes about 90 minutes for the ISS to complete a complete tour of the blue planet. In fact, the crew on board is entitled to sixteen dawns and dusk in a single day. The ESA-provided tracker also shows where the ISS was 90 minutes ago and where it will be in 90 minutes. There is a shift of 2,200 km from the ISS, due to the Earth's own rotation.

Passage of the ISS in the sky. // Source: Clement LarriveePassage of the ISS in the sky. // Source: Clement Larrivee
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's the ISS. // Source : Clement Larrivee

How to see the space station tonight?

Anticipate the passages of the ISS over France

If you want to anticipate the passage of the ISS, the American space agency provides a tool on the site Spot The Station. To use it, simply select the marker on the map that is closest to your geographic location. Points are offered in number for France. Select “View sighting opportunities” to have a list of sightings for a given period.

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The NASA website indicates, among other things, the times when the ISS will pass over France in 2022, at least for the next ten days. The site provides, in addition to the date, the duration of visibility, in which direction the ISS will appear and where it will go. Another possibility: the site Heavens Above. This is a platform that also allows you to know when and where to observe the passages of the ISS, particularly with the naked eye.

Who is on the International Space Station right now?

In addition to the location of the ISS in orbit, there is a tool that allows you to know the number of people currently in the station. There are eleven as of March 2023. This is a rather exceptional squad. Usually, attendance at the ISS is around six or seven people. These increases are caused by crew rotations and the arrival of tourists.

Furthermore, it should be noted another service which is used to count the number of people in space. The ISS is in fact not the only sustainable habitable structure in space: there is also the Chinese station, which allows taikonauts to experience long stays in orbit around the Earth. The Chinese orbital base has three occupants.

At what altitude is the ISS?

The International Space Station is approximately 400 kilometers from Earth. This is an average because the ISS sometimes changes its trajectory depending on circumstances (for example, if space debris poses a risk). This is also enhanced from time to time by maneuvers and using supply shipsbecause it tends to go down with time.

The orbit of the ISS is not circular: it is elliptical, with a perigee (closest moment to the point around which the ISS orbits) around 330 to 350 km and an apogee (farthest moment ) around 420 km. These are orders of magnitude. The ISS operates in low earth orbit (or LEO), whose ceiling is at an altitude of 2,000 km.


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