Space Station Steering

The International Space Station orbits about 250 miles above Earth. Although the atmosphere at that altitude is wispy, it still exerts enough drag to slow the ISS and cause it to lose altitude. At the same time, the giant, wing-like solar arrays swivel to track the sun, introducing disturbances to the station's orbit and alignment that build up over time. As a result, the ISS needs to be reboosted at regular intervals, and its heading and alignment need to be adjusted constantly. Animation: Bill Abreu (0:26)

Latest Videos

Preview thumbnail for video'Why the Apollo 11 Crew Was Quarantined Upon Return
Why the Apollo 11 Crew Was Quarantined Upon Return (2:59)
Preview thumbnail for video'How Neil Armstrong Trained to Land the Lunar Module
How Neil Armstrong Trained to Land the Lunar Module (2:13)
Preview thumbnail for video'Why Interest in Space Travel Waned After Apollo 11
Why Interest in Space Travel Waned After Apollo 11 (2:48)
Preview thumbnail for video'“An Engineering Masterpiece”
“An Engineering Masterpiece” (2:29)
Preview thumbnail for video'TESS Telescope View of the Sky
TESS Telescope View of the Sky (0:26)
Preview thumbnail for video'Chris Hadfield On the Asteroid Threat
Chris Hadfield On the Asteroid Threat (6:44)
Preview thumbnail for video'Excerpt:
Excerpt: "A Cruise to the Stars" (13:54)
Preview thumbnail for video'STS-1: The First Shuttle Landing
STS-1: The First Shuttle Landing (5:55)
Preview thumbnail for video'Intelsat Rescue
Intelsat Rescue (5:28)