The International Space Station is the most expensive item humans have ever created.
Source: Original photo by dima_zel/ iStock
Next Fact

The International Space Station is the most expensive item humans have ever created.

The most expensive movie ever made is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which cost a whopping $410 million. That’s a pretty penny to be sure, but it’s less than half a percent of the most expensive human-made object in history: the International Space Station, whose price tag comes in at $100 billion. Launched in 1998 after more than a decade of careful (and often difficult) planning, the ISS is a collaboration between five space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It has been continuously occupied since 2000, with a full-time international crew conducting microgravity experiments and other research.

You can see the International Space Station from Earth.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Incorrect.
It's a Fact
Despite appearing quite small at an average distance of 250 miles above us, the ISS can indeed be spotted by the naked eye. It’s actually the third-brightest object in the night sky and looks similar to a plane, albeit an extremely fast one.

For all that, the ISS almost didn’t exist in the first place. “There was never really a strong push to abandon it but there were threats,” according to Valerie Neal of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “It was very nearly killed by a single vote at one of the committees of the U.S. Congress.” Getting five space agencies representing the interests of 15 countries to work together was no easy feat, but few would argue that the results — including insights on disease treatments and drug delivery systems, the development of new water purification systems, and a better understanding of how bodies work in space — haven’t justified the financial investment.

Make Every Day More Interesting
Recieve Facts Directly In Your Inbox. Daily.

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Numbers Don’t Lie
Minutes it takes the ISS to orbit Earth
90
Total days spent in space by astronaut Peggy Whitson, a U.S. record
665
People who’d been aboard the ISS as of May 2022
258
Experiments conducted on the ISS
2,500+
The world’s first space station was called _______.
The world’s first space station was called Salyut 1.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Think Twice
Chinese astronauts are called taikonauts.

We tend to think of everyone in space as an astronaut, but the term (which comes from the Greek words for “star” and “sailor”) usually only refers to those from the United States, Europe, Canada, and Japan. Russian space explorers are called cosmonauts (from the Greek for “universe” and “sailor”). Less well known, but no less catchy, is the term coined in the West for Chinese astronauts: “taikonaut,” which comes from the Chinese word for “space” and Greek for “sailor.” The term is only used in the West — at home, Chinese spacefarers are known as yuhangyuan, which is derived from the words for “space” and “traveler.”

Article image
You might also like
15 of the Weirdest Things We’ve Sent to Space
Ever since the days of French aviation pioneers the Montgolfier brothers, humanity has been reaching higher and higher into the sky — and testing what they could bring up with them, whether it's pizza or musical instruments.