Here's the Tower - Twenty Years Since Everybody Was On Earth
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Twenty Years Since Everybody Was On Earth

 
Episode 82

One of my favorite bookmarked websites is a very uncomplicated page called howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow.com.

This site simply displays a number, usually between 3 and 6, that tells you how many people are in space at the moment and it provides links to the Wikipedia pages of those people.

As I record this, right now there are three people in space.

Since NASA’s Space Shuttle program ended in 2012, most of the people in space at any given moment have been living and working at the International Space Station. This research outpost hangs 250 miles above the surface of the Earth (that’s 400 km) and orbits the planet once every 93 minutes. That gives its occupants more than 15 sunrises and sunsets every day.

Assembly of the Station began in space in 1998 and the first resident crew arrived in late 2000.

Because the International Space Station has been continuously occupied for the two decades since then, that date twenty years ago – November 2, 2000 – is generally considered to be the last time that all living humans were on Earth.

If you’d like to get technical about it, that first resident crew left Earth on October 31st, 2000, two days before they arrived at the Station. They were already in space on October 31st – so technically not “on Earth” – but most people who care about things like these start counting from their arrival on November 2nd. 

Regardless of which particular day you’d like to mark as the beginning, sometime around this week is the twentieth anniversary of the last time that all the living humans were on Earth.

In those past 20 years, 241 people from 19 countries have visited the Station. 129 of them have been more than once, including 44 who have been three or more times, and two people who have stayed there five times each. 

There’s so much crazy shit going on in the world that it’s easy to forget that people are capable of incredible things together. It’s easy to take it for granted, but some of those bad ass motherfuckers pass over our heads 15 times a day. 

Here’s a toast to this milestone anniversary: Twenty Years Since Everybody Was On Earth. 

For more information about the International Space Station and life on Earth, visit your local library.

Associate producer: Betsy McClimans

Music: “Walking” by Scott Ritcher


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