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The International Space Station (ISS) is the most complex international scientific and engineering project in history and the largest structure humans have ever put into space. This high-flying satellite is a laboratory for new technologies and an observation platform for astronomical, environmental and geological research.

The space station flies at an average altitude of 400 kilometres above Earth. It circles the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of about 28,000 kph.

In one day, the station travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back.

The ISS is now the largest artificial body in orbit. It is 109 metres in length, making the space station's area span about the size of a football field. The space station weighs nearly 419,500 kg's, has 2 bathrooms, a gym and more room than a 6 bedroom house. The ISS has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations. There has been a total of 352 flights to the ISS, by 211 individual people, 31 of these were women, and 7 were 'space tourists' (as of 2013).

Many of the astronauts and cosmonauts are also amateur (ham) radio operators participating in the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) project. While on a break, these amateur radio operators will spend some time communicating with "earthlings" via amateur radio, using VHF and UHF frequencies.

ARISS lets school students worldwide experience the excitement of talking directly with crew members of the International Space Station, inspiring them to pursue interests in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and engaging them with radio science technology through amateur radio.

For 15 years, Australian amateur radio operator, Tony (callsign VK5ZAI) has facilitated amateur radio communications with orbiting space stations from his back yard station, allowing many schools to speak with the ISS.

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