Human Activities in Space
Surface systems are those systems that operate on the surface of a planet. Current operational surface systems include the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. These robots were launched in June and July 2003, with the purpose of understanding the history of water on Mars.
A privately financed company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bigelow Aerospace is licensing technology from NASA to build an inflatable in-space platform that could enable a number of on-orbit applications. Bigelow’s prototype inflatable platform was launched July 12, 2006, aboard a Russian- and Ukrainian-built Dnepr rocket, launched from Russia’s Yasny Launch Base by International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). “Led by the United States, the ISS draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency [Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom], and Brazil,” according to NASA.