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A Station Celebration
As a centerpiece of cooperation in space exploration, the International Space Station reached a milestone on December 4, 2008 as NASA and its partner nations celebrated the ten-year anniversary of the first construction mission.
The commander of that first space shuttle flight to the station was astronaut Bob Cabana -- now Director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Cabana recalls vividly that first arrival at the fledgling station.
"We finally got all the hatches open and we're up to the main hatch going into Node 1 and we opened the hatch and Sergei Krikalev was with me. I just waved my hand toward the hatch and the two of us entered together. I think what it talks about on the space station is international cooperation. You know, there wasn’t a first person in. It was we went in together. When you look at Japan, Canada, the European space agency and all its partners, Russia. You take all those different cultures, people, and hardware built around the world and it comes together for the first time on orbit and it works flawlessly -- that's phenomenal. The engineering of it is phenomenal. But when you throw in the cultural differences and that we have worked together in space as partners through some tough times and some easier times for 10 years now -- that’s amazing."
As the station's construction nears completion, Cabana reflects on the continuing work aboard the station.
"Right now, 24 hours a day seven days a week, 365 days a year. We have humans in space exploring. Exploring how to work in that microgravity environment in space. In that harsh environment where it can be as cold as minus 150 F or as hot as 300 degrees, you know? We’re making things work. We’re doing real science. We’re going to do more science when we get a larger crew up there. We’re proving the systems that we need. We have an excellent international cooperative partnership. I think folks need to know that we can work together. That, you know, it’s not just when the shuttle launches. There’s a crew up there right now doing real work in space."
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