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A Message from William Shepherd
Bill Shepherd Image to left: Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd dons a Russian Sokol suit. Credit: NASA

International Space Station was built by tens of thousands in the U.S. and in partner nations, in an era when many said it could not be done. Station is in orbit with her crew, marking 5 years of unbroken human presence "off the planet." While onboard, many of station’s Expeditions see themselves living in a place apart from Earth.

Vehicles sent to Mars and to other distant places will be large; too big to be fully tested on the ground, too heavy to be launched whole with single boosters. New space ships will be assembled and made functional in Earth orbit. These "ships" will have much redundancy, they will be highly self-reliant. Crews will embark for long voyages with the means to stay healthy and productive, with many ways to "get the job done." Pieces of these craft will come from different nations; onboard and on the ground, we will share our partners' expertise and capabilities to complete our missions. Space Station has shown that all this can be realized.

Bill Shepherd Image to right: Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd floats in the Zvezda Service Module of the space station. Credit: NASA

The shape of our future space exploration is still to be formed. We may have adequate technologies, but exploration is more about purpose. We are now at a crossroads, deciding whether we are bound to inhabit only the Earth, or if humans are to live and work far from the Home Planet. Space Station is a start to this journey. Let us continue now with new explorations which are more expansive and more bold; voyages which will define us as a spacefaring civilization.
William Shepherd
Expedition 1 Commander