Wednesday, November 2nd will be an historic date for NASA and the International Space Station as it marks the Stations fifth year anniversary of continuous human presence in space. Since the delivery of the module Expedition 1 on November 2nd, 2000, the I.S.S. has grown to become a state-of-the-art laboratory complex. Originally the size of a small apartment, the Station has grown to a volume larger than that of most three bedroom homes.
The experiments that are being performed aboard the International Space Station could provide the answers to many scientific and medical problems that could potentially hinder further space travel and exploration. For instance, it has long been known that there is a significant increase in the rate of bone loss by crewmembers while in orbit. By maintaining such an extended presence in space, medical scientists have been able to understand better where and how the loss is occurring and can now begin to work on combating it. Other experiments being conducted aboard the Station are testing technology and mechanical components that could be used in future missions to Mars or beyond. Remarking on the importance of the I.S.S. experiments, Expedition 9 flight engineer Mike Finckle said "The International Space Station is a perfect stepping-stone for us to perfect the technology, to perfect the operational tempo, operational parameters that we need to in order to make those long-duration missions successful."
News source: NASA - International Space Station
News source: NASA - I.S.S. Status Report